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Gambia Bar Association week opens

Jan 26, 2010, 2:10 PM | Article By: Sainey MK Marenah

Legal Practices and Ethics top Agenda

Legal pratisitioners, experts and a cross section of legal fraternity yesterday, 25th January 2010, convened at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi to commence a weeklong programme of activities, designed to share ideas and experiences. The forum is also meant to address the challenges confronting the legal profession, as well as to deliberate on professional standards and ethics.

The programme started yesterday with a two-day seminar, and the visiting professor Kim Economides made a presentation centring on legal practices and ethics; the principles, development of legal practice and on ethical principles for the Gambian Bar.

Addressing the delegates at the opening ceremony, Amie Bensouda, the President of the Gambia Bar Association (GBA) said the training seminar was one of a series on continuing legal education programmes. It was organised in collaboration with the DFID-funded Legal Capacity Building Project Phase II, aimed at providing support to strengthen the bar and the membership, and thereby improve the delivery of legal services to the public, she added.

"We thought it essential that, to begin with, we focus on ourselves and our professional needs and that is why the theme of this week is Legal Practices, Ethics and Advocacy," she said.

The GBA President noted that in many jurisdictions throughout the world professionals in every field are expected to keep themselves current on developments in their field, while at the same time improving and upgrading their skills at all times.

"Up to now the GBA has not developed any kind of structured programme in relation to continuous development for our membership," she revealed.

She expressed the hope that during the week, they would be able to discuss the need for continuous legal education, and to establish such a programme. Also to hold frank and useful discussions on legal practice in The Gambia, as well as deliberate on the structure they should create to support themselves meet the challenges they face, including organisational issues in the local environment.

Mrs. Bensuoda reminded the legal fraternity that apart from the constitution of the Bar the only other instrument they have created so far is the Code of Conduct which provides a self-regulating guide to professional standards of conduct.

She said that she believes that it is necessary to strengthen the system of self-regulation by also including a disciplinary mechanism for the enforcement of the code.

"We live in challenging times and are touched by many global issues for which our regulatory framework is too inadequate to support. How can we reorganise and have more influence on regulatory reform? How can we also ensure that our members are up to speed on statutory initiatives and changes?"

Speaking earlier, Professor Kim Economides, a legal expert from New Zealand, said the Gambia Bar Association has an important responsibility in the legal sector of The Gambia, pointing out that the GBA should be in the frontline to maintain professional standards in their working environment.

He indicated that legal norms and values reminded the lawyers their roles and responsibilities in societies, adding that lawyers play an important role in the dispensation of justice and promotion of civil duties and owe an obligation to their clients.

"Self-regulation is not an easy task ... the duties of the lawyer to his client remains a central factor and the role of the bar in legal matters is crucial," he concluded.