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MAURITIUS BAR ASSOCIATION Sit BAR COUNCIL Chairman: Herve Louis Charles Denis Duval SC Vice-Chairman: The Honourable Attorney General Secretary: Yahia Nazroo Treasurer: Varuna R Bunwaree Goburdiun Members: Yanilla Moonshiram, Arvin Halkhoree and Anusha Rawoah (Co-Opted) COMMUNIQUE The Bar Council has taken note of the amendments to the Mauritius Bar Association Act, voted by Parliament in the early hours of this morning. . The Bar Council refers to the following provisions of our law and the Code of Ethics for Barristers: 2.1 Article 69 (3) of the Constitution provides that “No person shall be qualified to hold office of Attorney-General unless he is entitled to practise as a barrister in Mauritius”. 2.2Sections 3(1)(a) & (b)(i) of the Law Practitioners Act 1984 “LPA” read conjunctively provide that “Subject to this Act, no person shall provide legal services unless his name has been entered on the Roll as a barrister and he is a member in the case of a barrister, of the Mauritius Bar Association” 2.3Section 2(2) of the Mauritius Bar Association Act provides that “Every barrister shall be a member of the Association”. Section 12 of the same Act provides that every barrister shall comply with the code of ethics for barristers prescribed by the Council of Vocational Legal Education. 2.4 Section 7 of the Law Officers Act provides that “Every law officer shall have and enjoy all the rights and privileges of a barrister entitled to practise in Mauritius”. 2.5Code 3.1 of the Code of Ethics for Barristers provide that: “The many duties to which a barrister is subject require his absolute independence, free from all other influence, especially such as may arise from his personal interests or external pressure; such independence as is necessary to create trust in the process of justice as the impartiality of the judge. A barrister shall, therefore, avoid any impairment of his independence and be careful not to compromise his professional standards in order to please his client, the Court or third parties” In the light of the above provisions, the Bar Council considers that the Attorney General and every law officer are duty bound, as barristers, to assert their independence from the Executive in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities as legal advisers to the Government of Mauritius. In the case of law officers, the Bar Council considers that everyone who enjoys all the rights and privileges of a barrister must be bound by all the obligations of a barrister. 5. The Bar Council regrets that the timing and the nature of the amendments to the Mauritius Bar Association Act, without any prior consultation with the Association, may lead the fair-minded observer to infer that the Executive wishes to dissociate itself from the efforts of the Bar Council to restore respect within and for the Association and the legal profession as a whole; efforts which are epitomised by the 3 i's Initiative ~ Integrity, Independence and Innovation. 6. The Bar Council has also taken note of the suggestions, echoed in the media, to the effect that the Bar Council is purporting to confer upon itself further disciplinary powers by making new rules, and in so doing is purportedly acting hurriedly, arbitrarily and illegally. 7. The Bar Council wishes to place on record and draw attention to the following: 7.1 The Bar Council was established under Section 5(1) of the Mauritius Bar Association Act, hereinafter “the Act’, for the purpose of “exercising any of the powers conferred on the Association under this Act, amongst others. 7.2Section 9(g) of the Act empowers the Council to make rules “generally for the purposes of the purposes of this Act” 7.3 Since March 2018, the Bar Council has engaged in a consultation process which has led to the drafting of rules which deal, amongst other things, with the powers of the Council under Section 13(4) of the Act namely that “The Council may determine that any member of the Association who has been sanctioned for a breach of etiquette shall be suspended or removed from membership of the Association”. 7.4 The Council has circulated the draft rules to the members of its Ethics Committee on the 2" August 2018 and subsequently to all the members of the Association for consultation. 7.50n the 18 October 2018, as part of its consultation process, the Council invited all its members to attend a presentation of the 3 I's Initiative and share their views and comments on the draft rules. 7.6More than 115 members attended the informative meeting. No one expressed any concern about the legality of the meeting and the issue of voting never arose since no one gave the impression of being confused about the nature of the meeting. 7.7 There were concerns expressed, mainly about interim suspensions, and suggestions were made about the draft rules generally before and at the said meeting, of which the Council has taken due note. The rules are yet to be finalised. 8 The Council wishes to remind one and all that the decision to suspend a member ultimately rest. with the Members of the Association at the general assembly; Indeed Section 13(5) of the Act provides that any member sanctioned by the Council for a breach of the Code of Ethics may appeal against the sanction by asking the Secretary to convene a special meeting of the Association. 9. The Council regrets that, despite its best endeavours, it has not yet received the support of the Attorney General, and through him of the Executive, in relation to the 3 i's Initiative and that the Council's calls for a holistic review of the laws regulating the practice of law appears not to have been heard. 10.The Council considers that it is urgent and necessary to address any harmful perception that may result from the latest amendments to the Mauritius Bar Association Act and hereby formally appeals to the Attorney General, and through him to the Executive, to meaningfully consult with the Association and to embrace ‘the 3? initiative with a view to making it a national initiative. THE COUNCIL 31* October 2018 Mth floor, Court View Building, Pope Hennessy Street, Port Louis ~ Mauritius Tels (230)213-9130 Fax (230)2139131 E-mail : mbaamba.intnet.nn nner