Lawyer fined K25,000 for contempt of court

National, Normal

The National , Monday, May 30, 2011

THE Waigani National court has fined Port Moresby lawyer Joseph Koi K25,000 for being in contempt of court over the Bank South Pacific workers’ strike last year.
Justice Derek Hartshorn last Friday ordered Koi to pay the amount within 30 days or face six months in jail.
Koi, the principal and partner of the law firm, Kople Koi Company Lawyers, was found guilty on April 11.
In addition to the K25,000 fine, Koi was ordered to pay the costs of BSP’s notice of motion seeking orders for contempt and all of the hearings associated with it on a solicitor-client basis.
Hartshorn said, “Koi deliberately and wilfully disobeyed or otherwise refused to and/or neglected the terms and effect of orders of this court”.
Hartshorn said Koi deliberately disobeyed restraining order against enforcing, facilitating and implementing any resolution and/or decision and/or agreement reached as a result of any secret ballot conducted without fully exploring and exhausting settlement procedures available under the Industrial Relations Act.
Hartshorn said Koi was found guilty of “disobedience contempt” or the failure to comply with an order of the court or an undertaking given to a court.
“In this instance, I have found that Koi disobeyed Order 4 (of restraining orders) by giving effect to and facilitating any resolution, decision or agreement reached as a result of the subject secret ballot and that by his conduct, Koi incited employees of BSP Ltd to take industrial action including to go on strike,” Hartson said.
“I concluded that it cannot be said that Koi was unaware of the restraining orders.
“It is not disputed that he attended court on behalf of the first defendants and unsuccessfully attempted to have the restraining orders set aside.
“He then wrote his letter the way that he did give the advice contained therein four days after he had been unsuccessful in setting the restraining orders aside, leaves no doubt in my mind that his action in writing the letter was wilful,” Hartshorn said.
Koi was defending Anton Sekum, PNG Bankers and Financial Institutions Worker Union president, against BSP management during the strike mid-last year when BSP staff  demanded better working conditions.