The Court of Appeal yesterday granted New Zealand-based lawyer, Leulua’iali’i Olinda Woodroffe, permission on a temporary basis to appear in Court, despite not having a Certificate to practice in Samoa. The decision follows the Samoa Law Society’s refusal to grant Leuluaiali’i a certificate due to her failure to comply with the Lawyers and Legal Practice Act 2014.
This week, Leuluaiali’i is appearing on behalf of Rev. Kerita Reupena who has taken on members of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa. That is one of the cases she is responsible for.
In Court yesterday, Justice Robert Fisher allowed Leulua’iali’i to appear for her clients until the end of the week.
The Samoa Law Society Vice President, Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i, told the Court that the Samoa Law Society Council has been accommodating to Leulua’iali’i and it is in their interest to assist the clients as well. She gave Leulua’iali’i assurance that her office is opened for her to come in and sort out the matter. Justice Fisher reminded Leulua’iali’i that there are requirements she needs to satisfy.
“It is completely unacceptable for you to try and put your responsibility on the council,” said Justice Fisher.
“The responsibility is yours. The Council of the Law Society is a group of voluntary practitioners giving up their own time to try and keep everything in order. You seemed to suggest that it is the Council’s responsibility…that is not my reading of the Act, there are requirements that you need to satisfy counsel. If it weren’t for the importance of appeal, the Court of Appeal would not have allowed you to proceed…the fact is, the client is more important than you are.”
In response, Leulua’iali’I thanked the Court for understanding and considering the needs of her clients.