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Sep 24, 2014

Attorney Andrew Marshalleck Speaks On Legal Profession Amendments

Andrew Marshalleck

It has long been spoken of by Attorney-General Wilfred Elrington, but on September fifth, government finally moved to amend the Legal Profession Act. The proposed amendment would have two significant repercussions on the profession – first, the composition of the General Legal Council would change. We understand that the Chief Justice would be Chairman while the rest of the Council would be appointed by the Attorney-General. Secondly, compulsory attendance of the Bar Association would be discontinued. That one comes as no surprise since both the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General have made no secret of their disdain for that organization of attorneys. Since the amendment was introduced in the House there hasn’t been outright condemnation from the Bar Association in any forum. But today there was – first from former President Andrew Marshalleck who told News Five that the proposal is retrograde.

 

Andrew Marshalleck, Former President, Bar Association

“The doing away of compulsory membership is presumably being done on the basis that compulsory membership is unconstitutional. This is an issue that the Bar has studied and has actually commissioned a legal opinion on. And the conclusion is that it’s not unconstitutional, so the need for the change starts from the wrong place. There is nothing that anybody can point to, no decision in this region, no decision in any court, which demonstrates that the compulsory membership in the Bar Association as presently provided for in the Legal Profession Act is unconstitutional. With regard to the reconfiguration of the General Legal Council, the concern is that the Council is now, save for the Chairman who is to be the Chief Justice, to be appointed entirely by the Attorney-General, a political officer. It gives political control over the disciplining of lawyers and erodes the independence of the Bar. We see that as a retrograde step.”

 

Reporter

“Is there anything that the Bar Association can do at this point to challenge this proposal?”

 

Andrew Marshalleck

“Well it’s just a proposal, and there was the House Sub-committee meeting yesterday to discuss the proposed changes, and we were there to make representations. Fortunately the members didn’t show up and there was no quorum, but that’s how we intend to participate in the decision.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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