Legal Ethics and Rules of Professional Responsibility in Fiji
From the 30th of January to the end of February, we have run almost back to back workshops for legal practitioners in every shape and size. Thus our absence from this site! On the 30th and 31st of January we ran a two day legal professional ethics workshop for new practitioners.
The workshop was based on an explanantion of the development of legal ethics as a discipline and on practical exercises on the principles. The lawyers, all new, were asked to address issues such as conflict of interest, pro bono work, representing politically incorrect clients, dealing with judges who may bully practitioners, and preparing proper bills of costs. We were fortunate in having the mock trial exercises
presided over by the Chief Justice himself. Ms Lidise and Ms Tuiketei were acting as counsel, with Mr Avneel Chand volunteering to be the irritated and irritable accused/defendent. An article analysing the principles of legal ethics and the Legal Practitioners’ Decree 2009 can be found at the link below.
Following that workshop was a series of three separate litigation skills workshops for legal practitioners. The participants may have attended to get their 1`0 Continuing Legal Education Points, but when they arrived, they participated with enthusiasm. As usual, we had a lot of fun.
These were followed by a three day fraud and corruption investigation and prosecution workshop for FICAC, which was intensive and rewarding.On the 24th of February, we ran a workshop for the DPP’s Office on calling expert evidence. We had a doctor, LTA vehicle examiners, and an IT expert to be examined in chief by the participants. Also attending were police prosecutors who participated well, although the scene was stolen by the experts. Expert evidence is challenging, because experts are intelligent, neutral persons who really don’;t care whether the accused is convicted or not. Often the lawyer examining the expert knows very little about that field of expertise and is expected to challenge a reasoning process without having any of the necessary qualifications! I left the workshop with a niggling feeling that the experts who attended all think that the law is an asset.
On 28th February we conducted a workshop on the media and the law for Fiji TV. We discussed contempt law, defamation, sedition, freedom of speech. the Media Decree, the Media Authority and court reporting. The second half of the workshop dealt with media ethics and the role of the media in relation to the justice system.
On the 7th 8th and 9th of March, we conducted a litigation skills workshop for the Legal Aid Commission. It was divided into two parts, trial advocacy, and appellate advocacy. Justices Madigan, and Goundar joined the Chief Justice to create a mock Court of Appeal. The workshop was as usual, intensive, with interlocutory applications on Day 2, and full court appeals on Day 3. We will run a similar workshop for the Independent Legal Services Commission in April.