©New Straits Times (Used by permission)
KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers can appear in court without a practising certificate until the end of the month, provided they have applied for one.
Bar Council vice-chairman Ragunath Kesavan said the Legal Profession Act 1976 gave a month's reprieve for lawyers pending their applications being processed.
He said by right lawyers should obtain their practising certificates by Dec 31 but many of them applied late despite reminders."We sent circulars calling Bar members to submit their applications by the end of September of each year so that they can get their certificates by the year-end," he said.Many only applied at the end of the year and this gave the council little time to process the applications.
Ragunath was commenting on lawyers who appeared before the Court of Appeal on Wednesday and asked the judges whether they could appear in court since they had not obtained their certificates to practise this year.
Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Wira Mohd Ghazali Mohd Yusof ordered them to proceed with their cases because "there is a saving clause in the act" for lawyers to represent their clients.
Ragunath said there were about 12,000 lawyers nationwide and naturally it would take time for the council to vet applications before the certificates were issued.He said the law gave the council 21 days from the date of application to approve and issue certificates.Ragunath said the council received an average of 200 complaints annually of lawyers representing their clients without practising certificates."This is a serious breach and they can be referred to the Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board," he said.