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Sunday 21 July 2019
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Law Association sulks over Govt silk

THE Law Association (LATT) is seeking an urgent meeting with Attorney General Faris Al Rawi to discuss the appointment of “silk.” In a letter to AG Faris Al-Rawi last Friday, LATT president Douglas Mendes, SC, said, “There is no established or uniform for notice to the profession that the appointment of silk is under consideration, for the making of applications, or for consultation among stakeholders.”

Mendes said he has received complaints from a number of deserving attorneys who told him they did not know appointments were under consideration and were deprived of an opportunity to be considered. “It is hard not to conclude that the system of appointments is arbitrary and unfair.”

Mendes said it was because of the criticisms surrounding the appointment to the inner bar, the LATT established a committee which has reported to the AG, two years ago, on the process. “I am sure you will agree with me that a process of appointment which consists of consultation with persons of your own choosing cannot meet the basic standards of transparency and fairness.”

“It is not fair that the future career of members of the profession should be determined or influenced by the views of in-named persons received in secret, in the course of a process which was not announced to be in train, with the result that other members of the profession of demonstrated merit may not have been given the opportunity to throw their hat into the ring and be considered.”

Mendes said the system suggested by the LATT was proposed to ensure participation of all stakeholders, including the government and assigns the lead role to the head of the Judiciary. “The system proposed in transparent and fair and is designed to ensure that paramount importance is given to established criteria for appointment based primarily on merit.”

Mendes reminded the AG of his statement on the recent appointments, saying the inner bar was in need of replenishment of numbers, given a burst of litigation both civil and criminal.

Given that Al Rawi has intimated another round of appointments in the near future, Mendes urged the AG to give consideration to the LATT’s report. Under the current system, senior counsel are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. Three attorneys were, two weeks ago, conferred with Senior Counsel or “silk” status, which among other things, entitles them to charge much higher fees than regular attorneys.

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