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The Parliamentary Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) will begin their inquiries into two Bills that are currently before the House.

The two Bills are the Legal Profession Bill 2017 and Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017.

According to the hearing schedule, BLC will first hear from stakeholders of the Legal Profession Bill 2017 on Wednesday and Thursday. The inquiry will end with the Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017 on Friday 15th September.

The objects and reasons of the Legal Profession Bill are to regulate the legal profession, to facilitate the fair and efficient administration of justice and to provide for the protection of consumers of legal services and the public. The Bill establishes two new legal entities to jointly regulate the profession, the Legal Profession Authority (LPA) and the Solomon Islands Law Society (SILS).

The Bill also sets out the requirements for admission to legal practice and the minimum standard of professional conduct expected from legal practitioners and creates a Disciplinary Committee of Solomon Islands Law Society (SILS) and a Disciplinary Tribunal to effectively deal with complaints about unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct. Both disciplinary bodies are presided over by a High Court Judge.

In addition, the Bill provides sufficient investigatory powers to ensure the disciplinary bodies can effectively investigate complaints; provides for the issue and annual renewal of practising certificates dependent upon compliance with the Act and Rules and compliance with the requirements to undertake continuing legal education; introduces categories of practising certificates to properly reflect the knowledge and expertise of the practitioner; sets out strict requirements for dealing with trust money for the protection of clients and provides for separate trust accounts and for proper record keeping and auditing of trust accounts.

The Bill also has strict requirements in relation to the costs legal professionals can charge their clients. It requires the disclosure of costs and costs agreements. It provides for costs assessment by the courts if there is a dispute.

Finally the Legal Profession Bill 2017 further provides for the appointment of supervisors of trust accounts, managers and receivers in certain specified circumstances where such intervention is necessary.

Stakeholders to appear before BLC on the Legal Profession Bill will include senior officials from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Legal Drafts person, Chief Justice, Chief Magistrate, Attorney General, Solomon Islands Bar Association, Director of Public Prosecution, Public Solicitors Office and two prominent Lawyers Andrew Radclyffe and Rodney Kingmele.

Meanwhile, the Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017 will sum up the BLC’s hearing on Friday 15th September as was stated in their schedule.

The object of this Bill is to increase the number of ministers from 23 to 24. This amendment will facilitate the creation of a ministry to administer the Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority Act 2017. Responsibility for this Act currently rests with the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.

Stakeholders invited to appear before BLC on the Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017 include Officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Legal Drafts Person, former Prime Ministers Sir Francis Billy Hilly, Rt Hon Ezekiel Alebua, Sir Allan Kemakeza, Former Governor General Sir Nathaniel Waena, Former Politicians/public servants Sir Paul Tovua, Mr. Job Dudley Tausinga, Ms Ruth Liloqula, Concerned citizens Mr. Charles Dausabea, Mr.Leslie Kwaiga and a rep from Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII).

Delayed broadcast of the hearings will be made available for listeners in the provinces via SIBC.

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« February 2019

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