The Bar Council of the Guyana Bar Association has taken offense to several comments which were made by Attorney General Anil Nandlall today during his contribution to the Local Content Bill debate in the National Assembly.
The Association’s main contention is with the provision in the Bill that deals with legal services, noting that the provisions of the Bill collide with other legislative instruments.
The Bar Association explained that to practice of Law in Guyana is governed by the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap. 4:01, and despite that fact, no recognition appears to have been given to the fact that only Attorneys admitted to practice Law in Guyana under the LPA, may hold themselves out to be entitled to perform legal services in Guyana.
“The provision made for legal services is not in accordance with similar provisions in other jurisdictions with Local Content Legislation, such as Kenya, Ghana, and Tanzania where it is mandatory for the legal services in the country to be provided by nationals with an established office in-country, requirements advanced and submitted by the Bar Association, so far, without being given effect. There is no justification for the provision of legal services to be anything other than 100% (mandatory),” The Bar Association said.
The Bar Association said while it notes the importance of the local content legislation to the current economic trajectory of Guyana, in its present form the regulatory framework of the Bill, is in conflict with legal requirements.
Further, the Association said Mr. Nandlall today gave the impression that Guyanese Legal Practitioners do not have the capacity and or are not qualified to handle matters which he described as “technical legal documents” and “joint venture agreements”, as a seeming justification for the target of 90% instead of the requested 100% by the Bar Association, and that further gives the impression that persons who are not duly admitted to practice law in Guyana under the LPA may do so, performing legal services.
“We outright reject these ill-informed comments particularly since we have not, despite the request, not been told what areas of law members of the Bar in Guyana are not qualified to practice (there being no such limitation in the LPA) and who is to provide the other 10%. Such comments by the Hon. Attorney General, are without basis, empirical or otherwise, in violation of the LPA as aforesaid and wholly disrespectful to members of the Bar who already perform the said services including Senior Counsel,” the Bar Council pointed, out as it implored the AG to withdraw his comments and issue an apology to the Guyana Bar.