Bar Association lashes out at AG’s “unwarranted attack”

first_img…says Williams himself retained counsels in private practiceThe Guyana Bar Association has called out Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams for his recent remarks that outlined concerns with lawyers in private practice who make representation for the State, deeming his position “unwarranted”.GBA President Kamal RamkarranTwo weeks ago, the AG, who is also Legal Affairs Minister, referred to the conduct of litigation by lawyers in private practice for the State and was reported to have stated that criminal action needed to be taken against lawyers conducting such litigation.In fact, he said that he “believes that [lawyers] need to start being charged now”. These comments did not sit well with the legal body, which observed that the statements do not consider the constitutional process in place.“These statements of the Attorney General, in addition to ignoring the fact that it is the Director of Public Prosecutions, a constitutional office-holder, whose duty it is to determine when and under what circumstances persons should face criminal charges, may give the incorrect impression to the public that there is something wrong, sinister or unlawful with lawyers in private practice conducting litigation for the State,” the Association stated on Wednesday.Attorney General Basil WilliamsThe Bar Association added that lawyers at the private Bar have always conducted litigation for the State in Guyana and throughout the Commonwealth, and continue to do so today.“This practice is entirely proper and is used where lawyers in private practice have such skills, experience or specialist knowledge of discrete areas of law to enable them to properly and successfully conduct litigation on behalf of the State,” the Bar said, pointing to the writings of then AG, Dr Mohammed Shahabudeen, who shared sentiments similar to that of the Association.Moreover, the Bar said that the fact that Williams has himself retained counsel in private practice from outside of Guyana to conduct litigation (SM Jaleel & Co Ltd and Guyana Beverages Inc v The Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Zulfikar Mustapha v Attorney General, and The Attorney General of Guyana v Cedric Richardson) indicated that the practice of the State retaining lawyers in private practice to conduct litigation was both well-established and continues today.“It is clear, therefore, that lawyers who conduct litigation for the State commit no criminal conduct whatsoever by the fact of their conducting that litigation. It is also clear that it is neither improper nor unusual for lawyers in private practice to conduct litigation for the State” said the Association.As such, the Bar Association says it views the comments made by the Attorney General as “an entirely unwarranted attack on the professionalism and the independence of the members of the legal profession, unbecoming of a member of the Inner Bar”. It is urging Williams to strengthen methods of record-keeping at the Attorney General’s Chambers if there were difficulties in that regard.The Association further said that it is calling on the Attorney General’s Chambers to “resolve issues concerning the conduct of litigation with those lawyers appearing for the State privately, with circumspection, and in a manner becoming of the standards of the profession.” It is of the view that such a course of action will avoid bringing the legal profession in Guyana into disrepute, which is “entirely undesirable from an office-holder who has traditionally been recognised in the Commonwealth with the unofficial and honorific title of Leader of the Bar”.last_img

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