Judge asks: Why overseas lawyers?

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, February 15, 2011

NO court case in PNG requires an overseas counsel, a senior National Court Judge told the Waigani courtroom, which was filled with PNG lawyers, last Thursday.
Waigani-based senior judge Justice Ambeng Kandakasi made this comment during the court hearings relating to the LNG-related issues which were before him to confirm for a definite mediation process with a draft terms of reference (TOR) using the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mediation conferences of all the parties.
“There is no case that requires an overseas counsel,” Kandakasi said, when there was no appearance of the counsel for the developers.
The judge added: “By now, I would have thought and expected that we have enough qualified local lawyers to handle any court matter.
“Why do we consistently go overseas to employ overseas counsel. Some of the overseas counsel come before the court and mislead the court on some of these issues.
“I do not know why Papua New Guineans still feel inferior when, after 35 years of independence, we should be qualified enough to deal with such issues, yet we are consistently going abroad to engage overseas counsel.”
Kandakasi then ordered that one of the PNG counsel (named) in this matter to appear before him tomorrow “in person” and meet with all the parties in the LNG-related  mediation matter.
He also told lawyers for all the parties in this LNG-related land matters that the court would not be dealing with any individual cases; there would be a consolidation of all the LNG-related issues or disputes and they would be dealt with under one TOR which is currently being drafted. He expected the ADR mediation process to be finalised soon.
“What we need is a general-enough TOR to cater for all the issues being raised.
“The way the TOR is going is general enough The TOR must be finalised this afternoon and ready for consultation and finalisation and I will make one order covering all the proceedings, and naming all the individual matters,” Kandakasi said.