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Lawyer loses licence

Avinesh Gopal
Monday, March 19, 2012

A LAWYER'S practising certificate has been suspended until she pays a fine to the Independent Legal Services Commission.

Laisa Lagilevu, who has been fined $1000 by the commission, also has to satisfy the Trust Account requirements of the Chief Registrar.

Commissioner Justice Paul Madigan said Ms Lagilevu was not able to lay claim to the most lenient of penalties should be passed on her. He said the respondent (Ms Lagilevu) "is publicly reprimanded".

The commission delivered its ruling on Friday in the case filed by the Chief Registrar against Ms Lagilevu, who faced an allegation of unsatisfactory professional conduct contrary to section 83(1)(a) of the Legal Practitioners Decree 2009.

On March 2, she appeared before Justice Madigan in the High Court in Suva on behalf of Epeli Ratabacaca without a practising certificate. Her conduct was a contravention of the provisions of section 52(1) (a) of the Legal Practitioners Decree 2009.

Ms Lagilevu denied the allegation in an enquiry conducted before the commission.

On further enquiry, she admitted that she did appear in court on March 2 and she had not been issued with a practicing certificate on that day. However, she disputed the fact that in so acting she was professionally conducting herself unsatisfactorily and was under the misapprehension that she was entitled to the issuance of a practising certificate.

Justice Madigan said: "Unfortunately for the respondent, the conduct she has been accused of is categorised as unsatisfactory professional conduct by decree.

"It is in effect a 'strict liability' offence and once it is proved that she appeared and that there was no practising certificate, then the complaint is established, whether the respondent was acting in good faith or not.

"The conduct is also a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of $5000 (section 52(2) of the Legal Practitioners Decree but the respondent has not been charged with that nor does she face the more serious complaint of professional misconduct.

"She has no right to complain therefore of the inculpation cited.

"In the circumstances, I find on the respondent's own admissions that the allegation is established," said Justice Madigan.


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