The decision by the Samoa Law Society to suspend the practicing certificate of lawyer, Pa’u Tafaogalupe Mulitalo, “was too severe”.
So says Unasa Iunu Sapolu in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.
Pa’u’s suspension was confirmed in a letter by the S.L.S. Secretary, Rebecca Schuster, where he’s accused of breaching the Lawyers and Legal Practitioners Act.
The S.L.S. Council claims Pa’u was in breach of section 34 (2) (a) of the L.L.P.A. (Lawyers and Legal Practitioner’s Act) 2014.
According to the L.L.P.A. Section 34 (2) (a), A lawyer who holds a barrister sole practising certificate may only act as counsel and is subject to the following restrictions:
(a) may not take money (whether on trust or otherwise from any client).
“In light of this breach, the Council has determined that it is serious enough to warrant a suspension of your practicing certificate,” the letter from the Samoa Law Society reads.
According to the letter, during its meeting on 27, March 2018, the S.L.S. Council noted Pa’u’s response and they found that it was not acceptable given the clear breach of section 34 (2) (a) of the L.L.P.A. (Lawyers and Legal Practitioner’s Act) 2014.
“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,” said the S.L.S. letter.
This week, a closed door Judicial Settlement Conference was held before Supreme Court Justice Leiataualesa Darryl Clarke.
“I’m fighting for justice in this matter as a matter of fact it is all we’re doing when you have all these lawyers who have vested interest in this clientele, and what’s important is the process should be fair.
“The suspension is not justified and that is what we’re fighting for,” said Unasa.
She claimed the judicial settlement has resulted in the matter going back to the S.L.S. Council.
Unasa also confirmed she’s a Council Member of the S.L.S.
“As it stands, the suspension has not been lifted however we have come to a settlement and there is a process in place that we need to go through.”
Unasa could not elaborate on the process.
“Whether the council will lift it is another case but there are better ways to handle this.
“We really want something to be fair for our lawyer colleagues and what was discussed in Chambers in confidence and the matter is now back to the lawyers Council.
“For this matter, he worked on it for three years and I can’t see a problem and they work really hard and there are a lot of countless hours.
“They (S.L.S.) should’ve addressed this differently, they could easily give him a warning, or suggest reducing the fee but the suspension is too severe,” said Unasa.