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Proposed amendments to Sabah Advocates Ordinance for P'ment soon
Published on: Sunday, October 09, 2016
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Kota Kinabalu: The proposed amendments to the Sabah Advocates Ordinance will soon be tabled in Parliament, said Special Tasks Minister Datuk Teo Chee Kang. "The State Government through the State Attorney General's office has already perused the proposed amendments, including the provision to set up a Sabah Law Society which is going to be a full fledged professional body governing the legal profession in Sabah to be equipped with the power to regulate their own affairs, including disciplinary action against members of the Bar in Sabah," he said.

"It is a very positive development. A paper has been tabled (State Assembly) and subsequently the State Cabinet approved and due consent given to Kuala Lumpur for the amendment Bill to be tabled in parliament in the coming sitting," said Teo.

"Not sure whether it is coming up in the next sitting but definitely soon. This is something good for the legal profession," he said after opening the Sabah Law Association's Legal Awareness Weekend 2016 at Suria Sabah shopping mall, Saturday.

To a question, Teo said it has always been within the State's power to regulate the legal profession.

"In fact, previously there was an attempt to extend the Legal Profession Act which is only applicable in West Malaysia to Sabah and Sarawak but Sabah Law Association together with the State Government took a very strong stand against it.

"Therefore, we will not see the extension of the Legal Profession Act. If the Legal Profession Act is extended to Sabah that means we will be surrendering our rights and powers to regulate the legal profession to Kuala Lumpur.

"But this is not happening. We are going to have our very own Act governing the legal profession here in Sabah."

Earlier, in his speech Teo said as a Minister he had seen the SLA work closely with the State Government particularly the State Attorney-General's Chambers and other relevant government departments to improve and amend local laws for public benefit.

"The Association has always been happy to make its contribution behind the scenes.

An example of such collaboration would be the revision of law pertaining to subsidiary titles and management corporation and the procedures for conversion of title and land use, as well as application for development plan approval," he said.

Meanwhile, SLA President Brenndon Soh said the amendments would help change the landscape for legal practitioners in the State as it would entail the formation of the Society, where membership of all legal practitioners in Sabah would be mandatory.

Among the other pertinent changes would also be the creation of a Disciplinary Board, Disciplinary Fund, Compensation Fund (to compensate members of the public in appropriate cases), powers to operate a deceased Advocate's clients' account and the ability of the Sabah Law Society to make rules regarding a minimum amount of insurance for every lawyer in the State, he said.

He said the proposed amendments would benefit the legal fraternity and correspondingly benefit the public.

"When our ordinance was first enacted in 1993, the number of lawyers was not that many and the likelihood of disciplinary problem was not really there. But now we are such a large fraternity and this is why we are pushing for more self-regulation. We are pushing for a statutory body, SLA with the disciplinary board with the power to mete out a necessary punishment.

"In the peninsula, they have the Bar Council Disciplinary Board, they have the power to mete out punishment.

That will be a more effective, efficient way to act as a deterrent for lawyers that may breach the rule.

"So this is one of the significant parts and this is a very important amendment which will not only benefit the lawyers but benefit the public," he said.

"We are hoping for the reading in October but it is up to (Minister in the Prime Minister's Department) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, the new law minister when she intends to table it … where we are now, we are still knocking on the door but very happy to have the support of the State Cabinet on this," he said.

The two-day Legal Awareness Weekend seeks to improve public legal awareness through free legal advice sessions or free legal talks and there will be free legal advice provided by members of SLA comprising senior and junior lawyers of the Sabah Bar.

Fifteen booths were also opened by various partners and stakeholders of the law for the benefit of the public.

Also present was State Attorney General Datuk Mariati Robert.





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