The Samoa Law Society (S.L.S.) has suspended the practicing certificate for lawyer, Pa’u Tafaogalupe Mulitalo.
This was confirmed in a letter dated 29 March 2018 to Pa’u, signed by the S.L.S. Secretary, Rebecca Schuster.
Contacted for a comment, Pa’u confirmed his suspension to the Sunday Samoan.
He said he is fighting the decision. Lawyer, Unasa Iuni Savusa, will represent him.
Pa’u declined to comment on the case, noting that it is pending before the Samoa Law Society.
But according to the letter obtained by the Sunday Samoan, the lawyer is accused of breaching the Lawyers and Legal Practitioners Act.
“At its meeting on 27, March 2018, Council noted your response and considered the same as not acceptable given the clear breach of section 34 (2) (a) of the L.L.P.A. (Lawyers and Legal Practitioner’s Act) 2014,” the letter signed by the Society’s Secretary, Rebecca L. Schuster, reads.
“In light of this breach, the Council has determined that it is serious enough to warrant a suspension of your practicing certificate.
“Accordingly, you are hereby advised that your practicing certificate is suspended, effective immediately.
“The Registrar of the Supreme Court and C.E.O. of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment by copy of this letter are notified accordingly,” said Schuster in her letter to Pa’u.
Last Tuesday, District Court Judge, Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i, did not allow Pa’u to represent a client, in her Court, due to the said suspension, which he did mention to the Judge.
Pa’u appeared in the District Court Criminal Mention and informed her Judge Alalatoa that he has been suspended. However he can apply for leave of Court which allows him to represent a client.
Pa’u explained that he spoke to the President of the Samoa Law Society Sua Hellene Wallwork.
“She (President of S.L.S.) made it clear that I can seek leave from the Court to appear on this matter.
“The Court of Appeal has granted leave for me to appear for a matter there and I also appeared for call overs.”
Judge Alalatoa thanked Mulitalo for his honesty.
“I am caught by surprise on the status of your practice as a lawyer because I was unaware.
“However the cases you referred to where you were granted leave to appear in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court call overs were different in that it was in the interest of justice and that of the clients he represented for some time, so there is finality that the appeal case precedes.
“But here in my Court, you accepted instructions from a new client to act and even appeared in Court for first mention knowing full well you are suspended.
“There is a difference,” Judge Alalatoa pointed out.
“Unless Madam President herself appears before me to confirm what you said in seeking leave of Court, or unless I receive a letter from the Law Society Council of a revised resolution to that effect, I will not entertain this application for leave.”
Pa’u attempted to give an explanation, but Judge Alalatoa would not have it.
“I have no jurisdiction to hear your explanation and it is for you to sort out your issues with the Law Society.
“However if you challenge the suspension take it to the Supreme Court, but don’t tell me about it.
“But for the matter before me, as you have informed me, you are under suspension which means you have no right of appearance in this Court.
“If you are passionate about the interests of the client and having appeared for, then you should instruct another counsel to appear on your behalf.”