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In an exclusive interview with Awareness Times, Bar Association Secretary-General Assures the Public
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Jul 18, 2013, 17:14
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In an exclusive interview with Awareness Times on Wednesday 17th July 2013, the newly elected National Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Lawyer James Momodu Forna Sesay assured the public that with the new executive, much improvement in terms of lawyers clients relationship would be seen. Below is the interview in which AWT stands for Awareness Times and SG for Secretary-General.

 

AWT - As the newly elected Secretary-General of the Sierra Leone Bar Association sir, what should the public expect from the Association?

 

SG - The public should expect a vibrant and robust Bar Association that is going to do exactly what it stands for. Honesty, I must admit that for quite some time now, the Bar Association had been sleeping and as such reneged in its responsibilities.


However, the Association has realized itself and has firmly decided to move forward, in the interest of the membership of the Association in particular and Sierra Leone in general.

 

AWT Rumours were making the rounds that the Sierra Leone Bar Association has been dormant, with the people knowing the work of the Association?


National Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Lawyer James Momodu Forna Sesay

 

SG - The work of the Sierra Leone Bar Association is primarily to seek the interest and welfare of its memberships, uphold the dictates of the legal profession and act as a pressure group to government and the powers that be.

 

AWT - Can the Bar Association now take complaints from aggrieved clients or members of the public? Secondly, some lawyers are in the habit of appearing in court only once to defend their clients after been paid and never showed up again. What can the Bar Association do about such complaints?

 

SG - The Sierra Leone Bar Association is not the correct place for aggrieved litigants or clients, to take their complaints. Please permit me to inform the general public, that the General Legal Council is the proper place to lodge all complaints concerning lawyers. The General Legal Council has a disciplinary committee that is headed by a no-nonsense Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature. This committee is mandate by Law, to look into all complaints and negative conduct brought before it, by members of the public.

 

I must however state that it is not proper for Lawyers to appear for their clients just once, after they have been paid their fees. This is not good, if it happens at all and the Bar Association frowns at it. On the other hand, clients or litigants must know that they have to pay their Lawyers, the legal fees they agree upon, even after they have paid their consultation fees. That fault many a time is on the so-called clients/litigants and not on their Lawyers. Lawyers are obligated to represent their clients in court or in any business transaction, particularly after they shall have been properly briefed.


In any case, if the Bar Association receives such complaints from the public, it would accordingly forward them to the General Legal Council. The Association does not condone its members to treat their clients, in such an unhealthy manner.

 

AWT - What is the relationship between the Sierra Leone Bar Association and the General Legal Council?

 

SG - The relationship between the Bar Association and the General Legal Council is very cordial and some members of the Council are first and foremost members of the Bar Association. Notwithstanding, the General Legal Council is quite separate and distinct from the Bar Association in every aspect. Furthermore, the General Legal Council regulates the business of the legal profession in Sierra Leone and acts as a watch dog for every legal practitioner.

 

AWT - Would the Bar Association take part in any general election in Sierra Leone? That is, to give or send signals to any political party that would want to cause unrest, during the electioneering processes?

 

SG - The Sierra Leone Bar Association has always taken part in every General Election held in Sierra Leone with particular reference to the 2007 and 2012 elections. Further to that, the Association has always applied to the National Electoral Commission for observer status and has distinguished itself throughout those periods.

 

The issue of political parties is the business of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC). However, the Bar Association has always been there to checkmate the excesses of every political party that would want to cause unrest in the country, during electioneering processes.

 

AWT - What will the Bar Association do to stop any government in power, if it is going out of the way and thereby misusing or abusing its powers?

 

SG - The Bar Association would definitely take appropriate measures to get the Government in power to understand that it is going out of the way and in the process acting ultra vires its mandate. However that would be done in a decent way, if such happens at all. There are several ways of pressurizing the powers that be, to realize that they are dividing the people, rather chaos, violence and confusion have no place in our society, and diplomacy must be the first step, in conflict resolution.

 

AWT - What is the relationship between the Bar Association and the Judiciary? Some lawyers are alleging that the Judiciary is not independent. Are you going to engage the Chief Justice to look into some of the issues that are bothering the public?

 

SG - Please permit me to firstly inform the public that the Bar Association is quite separate and distinct from the Judiciary. These are two different entities in the Justice System in Sierra Leone. The Judiciary primarily deals with the day to day administration of justice whereas the Bar Association looks after the welfare of its members. However, these two parties, that is, the Bar Association and the Judiciary interact in the daily dispensation of justice.


The 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone clearly sets out the functions of each arm of Government Executive, Legislative and Judicial, and their limits. This shows a semblance of separation of powers between and amongst the various arms of Government.


The Bar Association has put forward as its priority, the engagement of the Honourable Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, with a view to discussing and or addressing certain issues that are of paramount concern to both Judiciary and the Bar Association.

 

In fact the key interest of the Bar Association is to build a bridge between the Judiciary and the Sierra Leone Bar Association so that the wheels of justice will continue to turn in the direction they were designed. Cordiality has to exist between the Bar Association and the Judiciary so that justice would not only be done but would be seen to be done.

 

AWT Finally sir, what are we expecting from the Bar Association that will give people the confidence and hope to see the Association in active duty?

 

SG The Bar Association would like to encourage the general public to put their hope and trust in its dealings, more so as there is a turnaround in the attitude and activities of the Association. This time around, the Bar Association means business and would go all out to achieve its goals. The Rule of Law has to be upheld in Sierra Leone and the Bar Association is committed to that.

 

AWT Thank you for talking to Awareness Times sir.

 

SG Its my pleasure and thank you also for spearing your precious time and busy schedules to talk to the Bar Association


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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