Law society pushes for legal aid

National 2 minutes, 52 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE re-elected Law Society president will be pushing law firms to provide legal aid as many people could not afford lawyer fees.

Hj Mohammad Rozaiman DSLJ Hj Abdul Rahman said implementing legal aid is the biggest challenge for the society this year.

In an interview, he said the focus on legal aid was in response to the increasing number of court cases in Brunei.

The president said there is no legal aid fund in Brunei, and that it is up to the lawyers to contribute voluntarily.

Legal aid fund is only given to death penalty cases, said Hj Mohammad Rozaiman, who is now in his second term as president.

While some law firms can give legal advice, he said it is different compared to representing their clients and going to court.

“Legal representation is very important because that is what we’re hoping to achieve this year,” he continued.

According to the Law Society’s website, there are 34 law firms in Brunei.

The president further said the Law Society will seek more transparency in investigating complaints made on lawyers.

“We have to make sure to the public that investigation against lawyers must be done transparently, it is done properly by the judiciary or by a committee, we have that committee now with a chairman, we’re hoping to basically improve this. Hopefully, once we’re doing that, the public view will be better,” said Hj Mohammad Rozaiman.

The counsel explained that a disciplinary inquiry will be launched when a complaint has been made on a lawyer.

An investigation by the Law Society will follow before the complaint is brought to a body who can listen to the inquiry.

“The reason we want to push this disciplinary issue is that we want to show members of the public and court that the Law Society is taking action against lawyers, and we’re not sitting on it. I failed to do that in the last two years, but this year we want to push it.

“Legal aid and disciplinary issues against lawyers have to go this year whether I like it or not, we have to push it through and need to set up a deadline when we need to start. These two are some of the unfinished business I really want to push forward,” added Hj Mohammad Rozaiman.

The president said the focus on the two areas is part of the society’s wider role in maintaining the rule of law in Brunei and informing the public on how the law can protect them.

Another issue the Law Society president is seeking to improve during his tenure is to work closely with government agencies in maintaining the rule of law in the country.

Hj Mohammad Rozaiman hopes to achieve recognition from the government in viewing the Law Society as a strong body that should always be included in efforts to improve the legal system.

He said ministries such as the Prime Minister’s Office have been active in bringing the Law Society on board and hold talks in legislation issues.

However, he said there is still room for improvement when it comes to holding dialogues with other government departments.

“At the end of the day, we do not want to be seen as (critical), but to raise our views if we can improve the legal system, that is what we want to do, improve the legal system,” he added.

The Brunei Times