More than 100 newly licensed lawyers are unable to begin their practice due to delays in securing a special permit from the Supreme Court.
The Attorney General’s office (AG) licensed some 103 lawyers in June. However, under regulations enacted in June 2012, lawyers need a second permit from the Supreme Court before they can represent clients at courts.
The regulations require lawyers to sign and submit an agreement to the Supreme Court for registration. Lawyers who are not included in the Supreme Court registry will not be allowed to appear at court.
The newly sworn-in batch of lawyers are yet to receive the apex court’s permit.
The regulation sets ethical standards for lawyers as well as a dress code and prescribes penalties for unethical behaviour. The regulation also dictates rules on conduct inside courtrooms.
A lawyer awaiting the Supreme Court permit told The Maldives Independent that the delay has caused significant financial loss as he has been unable to work professionally.
“It’s been more than two months now and we are still waiting on Supreme Court. This is my work. I studied for four years so that I could gain something from it. But now I realise it is not easy being a lawyer in Maldives,” he said.
Other lawyers from the new batch were meanwhile confused when asked about the Supreme Court permit.
“I was given a permit to practice on the day I was sworn in. I didn’t know we had to get an additional permit,” a lawyer said.
The Maldives Independent contacted the Supreme Court for comment on the issue, but was referred to the department of judicial administration (DJA). A DJA official, however, said the department was unable to get a response from the court.
The AG office declined to comment on the issue.
Some prominent lawyers have meanwhile criticised the Supreme Court over the delay in issuing permits.
“I am saddened by the fact that the Supreme Court has withheld permits for the newly sworn in 103 lawyers to practice in court,” tweeted former attorney general Husnu Suood.
According to the Supreme Court, nearly 600 lawyers in the Maldives have signed the Supreme Court’s agreement and have been authorised to practice law.