A Government Service Bill proposing to establish a bar association in Maldives was submitted to the parliament on Thursday.
MP of the North Maafannu constituency, Imthiyaz Fahmy who submitted the bill, stated that the bar association was intended to prevent unfair disciplinary action against lawyers.
The bill itself states that lawyers should have the freedom to practice without being threatened by any individual or organization.
As such the bar association will be responsible for guaranteeing rights and privileges to all Maldivian lawyers.
In addition to this, the bar association will issue licences, designate specialisations, and monitor the work of local lawyers. It will also set standards for legal trainings.
Notably, the bar association have the right to take disciplinary measures against lawyers who act in violation of the code of practice.
While the constitution also accords this right to the courts of Maldives, several lawyers have been suspended from legal practice in the past.
The bar association will consist of a seven-member executive committee and five sub committees.
The executive committee will be elected by a secret ballot taken among all registered lawyers in Maldives.
Although the parliament will provide funds to operate the bar association, members of its executive committee will not be given any salaries or allowances. Prominent provisions of the bill - Lawyers that meet the set criteria will be sworn in in front of the chief justice of the High Court - Legal licences will be issued for a three year period and must be renewed if the recipient wishes to continue practicing law. - A president and a vice president must be elected to the executive committee. - The executive committee must be elected within a month of the bill being passed. - The bar association gets the right to fine lawyers. The bill also outlines the procedure to dismiss members of the executive committee. At least 100 lawyers must submit a petition requesting this to the executive committee which will then vote on the matter. The member in question will be dismissed if there is a two thirds majority. Requirements to be issued a license: - Be a sound minded Maldivian citizen of at least 21 years. - Must not have a criminal record within the past five years. - Must have completed a legal degree at a university accredited by the bar association. - Complete all trainings prescribed by the bill.