Speech by the Chief Justice at the Lawyers Swearing in Ceremony
The first ceremony to award license to lawyers under the Regulation on Issuing License to Practice Law in the Maldives (Maldives Supreme Court Ruling number: SC-RU/03/2015), was held on 17 October 2016. Chief Justice Hon. Uz. Abdullah Saeed addressed the lawyers who took the oath and joined the legal fraternity. He extended well wishes to the lawyers on behalf of the Maldives legal fraternity and in Â his own name. The main points noted in his address as follows:
Services of the Lawyers to the Judiciary, the Constitution and the Laws.
Lawyers have played a major role in safeguarding our nationâ€™s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in strengthening regional cooperation, sustaining independence, upholding the rule of Islamic Law, the Constitution and the Judiciary. The Chief Justice noted that the Supreme Court of the Maldives had issued historical landmark decisions to ensure the basic and civil rights of the people and the case reports of which demonstrates the important legal work done by the lawyers. He also noted the role of the Judiciary in maintaining law and order and the important role of the lawyers in this.
The Legal Profession Needs Further Development and Â Innovation
The Chief Justice expressed that similar to other professions the legal profession too needs to be developed in par with with aspects of modernization and societal advancements. He stressed on the importance of innovation and incorporation of information technology to further the legal profession.
The Judiciaryâ€™s Efforts to Provide Easy Access to Justice as Well as Equitable and Expeditious Service
The major changes brought in the previous year to the mechanism of case management and dispute resolution saw five divisions beginning established in the Civil Court, which includes a division to see minor cases related to business, property and finances and a dispute resolution division which works to mediate amicable solutions to cases before trial.Â With the newly established Dispute Resolution Division there is prompt delivery of justice and solutions to cases and the legal costs are brought down considerably for the people related to the cases.
The Chief Justice highlighted the many projects which are underway to strengthen case management and effective administration of the Judiciary. These include the establishment ofÂ the biggest wide area network in the Maldives, the project to connect more than 100 Magistrate Courts of the Maldives with the Department of Judicial Administration through an Integrated Communications Network and the project to establish an Electronic Filing System.
All Development Projects and Programs Focused on Fair an Equitable Justice and the Rule of Law
The Chief Justice highlighted that all projects and programs carried out by the Judiciary are aimed at dispensing equitable justice to all in line with socio-economic development and upholding the rule of law. The Chief Justice emphasized on the importance of building investor confidence in the rule of law and the legal and judicial system. He encouraged graduates of law to make the areas of commercial, business and finance as the main areas for specialization.
A Number of Programs Organized for Capacity Building of Lawyers
The Chief Justice revealed that a curriculum has been drawnup and sessions are to be held by the Maldives Judicial Academy for training and capacity building of Judges and lawyers with assistance from the United Nations Development Program.
The Legal Profession Should be an Independent Practice Exclusive to Lawyers
The following points were made in reiterating that the Judiciary perceives easy Access to Justice as one of the most important pillars to sustain rule of law:
- The Regulation to License Lawyers in the Maldives specifies that the legal profession in the Maldives is an independent profession which works to maintain the rule of law, the lawful Government, ensure the rights of individuals and work with the Judiciary in protecting these rights.
- Lawyers has to abide by the Constitution, the laws of the Maldives and in the absence of a law they have to follow the Islamic Shariâ€™ah.
- In order to strengthen the foundation of legal studies and the legal profession, the Regulation to License Lawyers in the Maldives prescribes standards for legal studies in the national curriculum of the Maldives.
- The Judiciary requires the national curriculum on legal studies taught in the Universities and colleges of Maldives to be standardized in par with other democratic societies and within the boundaries of the Constitution which establishes the social, political and economic structure which constitutes the State of the Maldives.
- The induction process to acclimatize fresh graduates of law to the legal and the judicial system of the Maldives and the legal profession are specified in the Lawyersâ€™ Regulation in line with the concept established in the bar examination.
The Chief Justice also noted that the work of legal aid has commenced this year on the initiative of the Attorney General, and the points he made at the â€œNational Legal Aid Conferenceâ€ held recently by the Attorney Generalâ€™s office was reiterated. In this respect he stressed on the importance of establishing a mechanism to provide pro bono service by the state to those who do not have the financial means to afford legal assistance, providing the public with easy access to justice. The Chief Justice also appealed to the legal fraternity to further develop itself as a profession which lends itself and supports research in areas of Islamic Shariâ€™ah, legal research and strengthen the relation between the members and safeguard their interests and ensure legal aid to persons who are not in a position to afford the Â service.
Appeal to the New lawyers Who Joined the Legal Fraternity
- Lawyers should bear in mind that the law should not be practiced solely for the purpose of material or financial gains, that lawyers have a professional duty to protect the rights with honesty and integrity as according to the oath they take.
- In providing legal assistance the relation between the lawyer and the client should be based on honesty and sincerity.
- Each lawyer should give priority to meeting their client in person and provide considerable time for discussion even though the current times allow for modern methods of communicating long distance and via social media.
- While safeguarding and protecting the rights of a client the lawyer should also be just and fair to the other party.
- No lawyer should commit an act which could result in the loss of trust or disrepute the legal fraternity.