Bar Association calls attention to ‘attempts to erode legal professional privilege’
The Guyana Bar Association is hosting its second annual law week activities and at a symposium on Friday, the Association’s President, Pauline Chase called attention to what she said were attempts to erode legal professional privilege.
She observed that it is not a problem lawyers face in Guyana in isolation but has affected others across the world.
“First brought about with the introduction of anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering legislation post 2001,” Chase believes it is etching an expanded space in Guyana through the government’s proposed National Intelligence and Security Agency Bill 2023.
“…if permitted to pass in its current form… will exempt from suit breaches confidentiality arising from legal professional privilege.
“Legal Professional Privilege, the ability of our clients to freely share information with us for their fair representation, is the bedrock of our profession and by extension the administration of justice. We therefore as a collective, must in preparing for the future, find a way to somehow address this,” Chase posited.
Hours after Chase made her statements on Friday, President Irfaan Ali announced on his Facebook page that the Bill will be sent to a Parliamentary Special Select Committee.
Chase told the room of legal luminaries that there were other challenges to the profession, including a lack of a sufficient quorum of judges to dispense justice in a timely manner.
Notwithstanding, the Bar Association Head believes there are inarguably positive changes to come and said the advancement in technology has made and will continue to make for greater efficiency and ease.
However, AI (Artificial Intelligence) is another threat that Chase said should not be ignored.
“It threatens our very existence as a profession. And while many of us may have thought that this not a problem we would have to face in our lifetime…the speed of development of this technology makes it a very real present day reality.”
And so, in preparing to meet the future as a sector, Chase urged the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall to support through legislation, giving statutory effect and protection to the Guyana Bar Association.
“We cannot as a Bar continue to be the generators of the money in this sector and have no say…to its spending or policies created therefrom which touch and affect us. And while we do currently have a seat at the table through the courtesies of the Chancellor and Chief Justice, the one constant in life is change, we do not know who and what the future holds and we cannot be left at the mercy of courtesies.”