Justice system being abused, says Malaysian Bar

Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah.

PETALING JAYA: The justice system is being abused and brought to disrepute through the frantic acts and numerous attempts to postpone the hearing of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s appeal, says the Malaysian Bar.

Its president Karen Cheah said this includes the application to discharge from acting for the former prime minister; defiance by refusing to proceed with submissions on the appeal after the Federal Court had made its ruling; and the sudden discharge of Zaid Ibrahim, Liew Teck Huat and Rueben Mathiavaranam by Najib.

Advocates and solicitors involved in such acts would have to face disciplinary action, she said in a statement yesterday.

Cheah said a lawyer must examine his mind and assess that he is able to proceed with a case before deciding to take it.

“Rule 6(a) of the Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978 (LPPER) states that an advocate and solicitor shall not accept any brief unless he is reasonably certain of being able to appear and represent the client on the hearing dates fixed by the court.

“The new lawyer must also adhere to Rule 24(a) of the LPPER, which provides that an advocate and solicitor shall make every effort to be ready for trial on the day fixed,” she said.

Cheah said while Najib was entitled to appoint new lawyers to take over his case, the former prime minister should have known the risk that the court may not necessarily allow any requests for postponement of the hearing.

“By the same token, the client that discharges his or her lawyer or a lawyer who seeks to be discharged from representing his or her client, is still subject to the overall control and discretion of the court whether to allow such a discharge.

“Simply put, it is not an automatic entitlement,” she added.

She said Najib’s decision yesterday to discharge his legal team for the second time, at the very last minute, was an act of self-inflicted injustice.

Meanwhile, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said he gives his “full support and agreement” to Najib’s decision to discharge his (Zaid’s) law firm in the SRC International appeal.

Zaid said he believes Najib’s decision was prompted by his belief that his lawyers could no longer be of any useful purpose to him.

Furthermore, he said, Najib believed that the prevailing assumption among the judges is that the reorganisation of his legal team was a ploy to stall proceedings.

Zaid claimed, however, that the fresh evidence Najib was seeking to adduce would have had an effect on the former premier’s conviction by the High Court.

“I regret that despite the best efforts of lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, and the lawyers in my team both from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, we have not been able to dispel this sad misconception,” he said yesterday.

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