History made as Brunei welcomes first female Law Society president


Brunei's new President of the Law Society Nur ‘Azizah Dato Seri Paduka Ahmad. - Photo: Borneo Bulletin/ANN

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ANN): Brunei has witnessed the appointment of its first female president of the Law Society, marking a significant stride in the legal profession’s history.

Nur ‘Azizah Dato Seri Paduka Ahmad acknowledged the long-standing tradition of female leadership within the legal community, citing examples from the Attorney-General’s Chambers and private practice where women hold influential positions such as partners, managing partners, or sole practitioners.

Despite being the inaugural female president, Nur ‘Azizah noted that female empowerment in Brunei’s legal fraternity is not a recent phenomenon. The nation has one of the highest ratios of women to men in private practice in the region, indicating a commitment to gender equality.

Nur ‘Azizah highlighted the growth and development of the legal fraternity over the 18 years since its establishment, expressing confidence that the time has come for female leadership at the Law Society.

She emphasised the broader benefits of women in leadership roles, citing studies that show increased productivity, enhanced collaboration, organisational dedication, and improved fairness when more women are empowered to lead.

Nur ‘Azizah identified three key challenges facing the legal profession in the coming year. She first addressed concerns about the integrity of the legal profession, acknowledging recent complaints against practitioners.

She underlined the importance of maintaining public trust in the legal system, calling for vigilance in upholding ethical standards and addressing misconduct through a refined disciplinary process. Nur ‘Azizah announced two developments to address these concerns.

The first involves an update to the disciplinary process, where a review committee will evaluate all complaints before a formal inquiry committee is constituted, aiming to expedite the handling of complaints. The second development is the introduction of professional indemnity rules in 2025, requiring every firm to have insurance providing indemnity against loss arising from claims related to civil liability in connection with a lawyer’s practice.

The second challenge highlighted is the saturation of the legal market. Nur ‘Azizah recognised the benefits of a diverse and competitive legal landscape but raised concerns about potential conduct issues and compromised service quality due to oversaturation. While acknowledging the increase in lawyers may be beyond their control, Nur ‘Azizah called for a collective effort to adapt, innovate and maintain high professional standards.

The third challenge revolved around ensuring access to justice, acknowledging economic disparities, geographical constraints, and other barriers that can impede individuals from seeking legal representation.

Nur ‘Azizah underscored the Law Society’s duty to address these impediments, champion initiatives promoting inclusivity and make justice accessible to all.

She also highlighted a specific issue raised by the Council regarding the challenges faced by defence counsel when meeting incarcerated clients, stemming from health and safety protocols introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Law Society has engaged with relevant entities to address the concerns and looks forward to resolving the issue.

Nur ‘Azizah concluded her speech by expressing gratitude for the Law Society’s inclusion in governmental discussions and emphasised the importance of collaboration within the legal community.

She shared enriching experiences from regional legal events, pledging to channel the knowledge gained into building a more vibrant legal community at home.

On a lighter note, Nur ‘Azizah acknowledged the Law Society’s commitment to its annual games and annual dinner, celebrating the camaraderie within the legal fraternity.

She also noted their recent triumph in bringing back a trophy for bowling from the games, highlighting the importance of such informal gatherings in fostering connections and commemorating the vital roles played by members in the legal community.

As Brunei embarks on a new legal year, Nur ‘Azizah expressed eagerness in serving members and the wider community.

She also reiterated the Law Society’s commitment to supporting the judiciary in upholding the administration of justice and the rule of law, wishing everyone a year of collaboration, progress, and prosperity. - Borneo Bulletin/ANN

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Brunei , History , First Time , Woman , President , Law Society

   

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