#Article (Archive)

Justice Minister to new lawyers: ‘remain honest in all that you do’

Jun 12, 2014, 9:15 AM | Article By: Malamin LM Conteh

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mama Fatima Singhateh, has advised new legal practitioners joining the Gambian Bar to live by the legal practitioners’ code of conduct, and “to remain honest in all that you do”.

“Live by your code of conduct. Let it be your compass in life, strive to remain honest in all that you do. Be hardworking, and committed to your work whether in the private or public bar,” the Justice minister said Wednesday at the high court ceremony in Banjul to enrol 18 new lawyers to the Bar.

In her statement delivered on the occasion, Justice Mama Fatima Singhateh noted that the vast majority of them are from the second group of graduates of the Gambia Law School, which was established in 2011.

She added that they have been “deemed fit and proper persons to be enrolled to the Gambian Bar by the competent authority – the General Legal Council”.

It is only after years of legal education at university level and a full year post-graduate professional bar course that successful graduates are entitled to be called to the Bar.

Young lawyers, the Justice minister continued, “must remember that the legal profession is a noble profession, and you as young lawyers are expected to maintain the standards and ethics of the profession throughout your professional lives, and even in your private lives.

“You must abide by the code of conduct of legal practitioners, and remember you are subject to the disciplinary committee of the General Legal Council,” she pointed out.

The Justice minister went on to add that, “recently, the profession has been plagued with incidents of unprofessional and criminal activities of lawyers, and this had caused members of the public to question our credibility and worthiness as lawyers.

“About two years ago, two lawyers were separately charged, tried and convicted of fraud and making false documents etc., respectively.

“The Disciplinary Committee under the General Legal Council recently also found a number of lawyers guilty of professional misconduct, and even more recently a young lawyer was found guilty for attempting to bribe a judge.

“These are conducts unbecoming of legal practitioners, and they bring the profession into disrepute”.

She reminded the new lawyers that the legal practitioners’ code, “which should be the guiding principle of every lawyer, provides that a legal practitioner must uphold the dignity, honour and high standing of the profession, and shall desist from dishonest, unjust and disreputable conduct.”

Justice minister Singhateh went on to further advise them to “continue reading the law and keeping abreast with latest developments in the law”.

“Be humble in all that you do. Humility is the stuff great men and women are made of”, was her final advice to the new lawyers.

Also speaking at the ceremony was the president of the Gambia Bar Association, Lubna Farage, who said lawyers should not be problem makers but problem solvers.

She also said lawyers must protect their integrity, be honest and truthful.

“You are to assist the court to administer justice with honesty and respect”.

In addition to being committed and hardworking, the new members of the Gambian Bar must be prepared to assist their communities by giving them legal advice, and sometimes represent them free-of-charge, Lubna Farage added.