LAWYERS FROM Asia-Pacific and beyond gathered in Hong Kong this month for the 20th LAWASIA Biennial Conference, which provided an intense discussion forum on a myriad of legal issues affecting the region.
As is tradition, the conference ran parallel to the 12th Conference of Chief Justices of Asia & the Pacific. Chief justices from 29 jurisdictions participated in the closed chief justices’ conference but emerged to attend and speak in the judicial streams of the LAWASIA conference.
Their presence saw delegates treated to lively sessions focused on the role of a judge in a criminal trial, addressed by Australia’s Chief Justice, the Honourable Murray Gleeson; nurturing an ethical and viable profession, chaired by the Chief Justice of Nepal, the Honourable Chief Justice Dilip Paudel; and a session on judicial control of administrative action.
The Chief Justice of New Zealand, the Right Honourable Dame Sian Elias, always a popular and inspirational speaker, delivered an apt opening keynote address titled Celebrating the Profession.
The final day of the conference included a Rule of Law under Threat session, which examined recent issues emerging from Fiji, Nepal and Pakistan.
Retired Pakistani High Court judge, Rasheed Razvi provided both detail and legal insight into the recent highly controversial removal of Pakistan’s Chief Justice.
Outspoken Suva lawyer, Graham Leung, offered his views on the divide that Fiji’s legal community faces following the coup of December 2006. The president of the Nepal Bar Association, Bishwa Mainali discussed threats to the rule of law faced by Nepal as it makes the transition from armed conflict to peace.
The Hong Kong event marked the last of the LAWASIA biennial conferences before moving to an annual conference, with the first scheduled to take place from 31 October to 1 November 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.