Attorneys in Sri Lanka
An Attorneys at law (or attorney-at-law) in Sri Lanka is the only legal practitioners authorized to represent others in all court of law in the island and are also authorized to give advice regarding any matter of law. Alternative terms include lawyer.
In 1833 the Supreme Court of Ceylon was allowed by Section 17 of the Charter of 1833, to "admit and enroll as Advocates and Proctors, persons of good repute and of competent knowledge and ability upon examination by one or more of the judges of the Supreme Court". Since then there were two groups of legal practitioners in Sri Lanka before 1974 as advocates and proctors, when the Administration of Justice Law was enacted by the National State Assembly in 1973. Like barristers and solicitors in England. Advocates did not have offices and they could not visit an office of a Proctor. They had no power to act as notary-publics. Advocates appeared in civil & criminal cases under the instructions of a Proctor. Any person who wished to get the service of an Advocate he had to get it via a Proctor.
Under the Administration of Justice Law No. 44 of 1973 of the National State Assembly one group of practitioners were formed as Attorneys-at-law. After the aforementioned law came into operation both advocates and proctors are considered as Attorneys-at-law for all purposes. Those attorneys engaging the practice of courtroom advocacy and litigation, as did advocates in the past are referred to as counselor while other attorneys engaged in all kinds of legal work. Counselor are retained by instructing attorneys on behalf of their clients. Senior counselors may be appointed as President's Counsel.
To practice law in Sri Lanka one must be admitted and enrolled as an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. This is achieved by passing law exams at the Sri Lanka Law College which are administered by the Council of Legal Education and spending a period of six months under a practicing attorney of at least 8 years standing as an articled clerk. To undertake law exams students must gain admission to the Sri Lanka Law College and study law or directly undertake exams after gaining an LL.B from a local or foreign university. Members of Parliament may gain admission to the Sri Lanka Law College to qualify as lawyers.
There are several appointments that attorneys can apply for or be granted by the government;
- President's Counsel
- Justice of the Peace and Unofficial Magistrate
- Law Officers
- Notary public
- Commissioner for Oaths
- Company secretary
- Inquirer into Sudden Deaths
Sri Lankan attorneys are required to wear robes and other items of court dress when they appear in court. Male attorneys, must wear a black coat, dark trousers, white shirt and black tie, they are also permitted to where white trousers or white National dress and also a black sherwani. Sherwanis and white trousers are uncommon. Lady lawyers commonly wear white saree. Black gown (robes) must be worn before the Superior Courts (the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court) and are optional in other courts and are wron per custom.
Prior to 1974, advocates wore the court dress of barristers with horsehair wig (ceremonial occasions), stiff collar, bands, and a gown; while proctors wore black coat and white trousers. Following the creation of the profession of attorneys in 1974 to reforms of it in 1977, all judges and attorneys wore black coats, dark trousers. Since then the current practice continues.
Attorneys are regulated by the Bar for the jurisdiction where they practice.
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