… Legal Practioners (Amendment) Bill 2009
– requests further deferral for meaningful consultation
By Gary Eleazar
President of the Guyana Bar Association Teni Housty yesterday confirmed that members of the fraternity have met and expressed their reservations as it relates to the proposed Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill and as such have requested from the Attorney General a further deferral of the Bill to facilitate “meaningful consultation.”
Housty said that the principle of a code of ethics for the practitioners is a welcome proposal, but the one on the table leaves much to be desired, as is the case with the process in which the Bill is being peddled through Parliament.
According to Housty, the members of the association also had a problem with the clause in the proposed legislation that mandates that attorneys be issued with a practice certificate before they could practice their profession in a court.
He said that no other profession entails this restriction adding that it was discriminatory towards lawyers.
Housty posited that it also bordered on meddling with the independence of the legal profession.
Lawyers are questioning why if there are already provisions in place for persons breaching the tax law to be penalized, why up the ante to a discriminatory level – in that the lawyers must now have a tax-compliant practice certificate.
During the last sitting of the National Assembly, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Charles Ramson SC, had requested the Speaker of the House to defer the second reading of the proposed legislation so that there could be further consultations, but this is apparently not the case, as the Bar Association is seemingly dissatisfied with the level of consultation since.
Recently People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Executive and Member of Parliament Basil Williams told media operatives that while lawyers are in agreement with the code of conduct for lawyers stipulated in the Bill, it also includes a provision which is repressive, where one person was identified to regulate whether a lawyer in Guyana could practise or not.
According to Williams, the Tax Act has adequate remedies and procedures to deal with persons who do not pay their right amount of taxes.
“It (the Bill) has no place in telling lawyers they can’t practice unless they have a practice certificate. So it’s not about lawyers paying taxes. It’s about a repressive instrument where the government could politicise that requirement to target lawyers, especially lawyers who have the courage and who have been in the forefront of confronting the excesses and lawlessness of this government,” Williams told the media.
He added that the Bill will directly impact the independence of lawyers in Guyana.
Of concern to the PNCR is the fact that members of the legal profession were not given a copy of the Bill and therefore, they have not been able to make their views known or their voices heard.
Additionally, the party claimed that there was not enough consultation with the members of the legal profession for the far-reaching changes to the existing Legal Practitioners Act.
The proposed legislation has a provision which dictates that an Attorney-at-Law cannot practice his/her profession without first obtaining a Tax Practice Certificate from the Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority.
“A Tax Practice Certificate is a requirement under section 39 of the Tax Act. Non-compliance with this requirement has its own regime of penalties under the Income Tax Act. However, the present Bill would effectively deny an Attorney-at-Law the right to practice his/her profession in the absence of this Certificate.
This is not only tantamount to double jeopardy, but infringes a person’s constitutional right to work,” the PNCR noted.
May 24, 2020Mahadeo and Adonis out as organisers drastically reduce field owing to Covid-19 By Franklin Wilson The organisers of the world’s biggest fitness competition, the Reebok CrossFit Games has announced...
May 24, 2020
May 23, 2020
May 23, 2020
May 23, 2020
May 23, 2020
A sucker is born every minute. But it appears as if Guyana has gotten the hog’s share of suckers. When Donald Trump made... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Caribbean countries are, once again, being placed in a difficult position as they try to navigate... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]