BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
SOLOMON Islands Attorney General James Apaniai has revealed yesterday that outstanding disciplinary cases against lawyers will be dealt with in the next few weeks.
He said first cases will be heard within the next few weeks and others will follow suit.
Mr Apaniai said there are lawyers who are currently without practice certificates, due to disciplinary charges laid against them.
“Some of these lawyers have been writing directly to me, complaining about their ability to practice and earn money due to these pending charges.
“They seem to assume that the disciplinary procedure is just a process, at the end of which they have a right to be issued with a practicing certificate.
“Unfortunately that is not the case,” Apaniai said.
He explained that the disciplinary committee have powers to impose a wide range of disciplinary penalties, one of which is to order that the lawyer concerned be struck off the roll altogether in appropriate circumstances.
He also said that the committee is not without its challenges. The committee has no office, no investigation officers and are not being paid. In many cases the AG had to attend to all these things by himself.
With his heavy workload and busy schedule, it should not be a surprise that it has taken so long for disciplinary cases to be dealt with.
“Therefore it is my hope that the new Legal Profession Bill 2017 will provide some solution to these challenges,” Apaniai added.
Meanwhile Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer said on the issue of discipline the Attorney General has adequately explained and he encouraged the Disciplinary Committee to carry out hearings as soon as possible.
The Attorney General is the chair of the disciplinary committee with all private legal practitioners.