Though majority of the elites in Somaliland are familiar with The Lawyers Act (Revised) Law No:
30/2004; the only legislation that governs the legal profession in the country. What is however,
misplaced in the general public domain, is the inverted perception far from the reality on the ground
due to the fact that the said legislation falls short in addressing the myriads of the profession with all its
deficits, lacunas and pitfalls.
The said Lawyers Act in spite of its revised design passed in 2004 does not have enforceability muscles
and is more or less like a toothless bulldog that cannot bark nor bite leave alone imposing strict
disciplinary measures on errant, naughty, rowdy, quacks, touts as well as masqueraders’ lawyers.
The stakeholders in the provision of justice are the Courts of all cadre, the Attorney General (AG)
Chambers and defense counsel just to name but a few.
Somaliland Lawyers Association (SOLLA), the bar association in the country was inaugurated in 2004
not by an Act of parliament as the case in most other jurisdictions. When a profession body of
the so called ‘learned friends’ are not institutionalized by legal instrument, then it cannot be
relieved from financial emasculation, control, direction and authority of the Government of the day
hence dance to the state tune.
In view of these limitations and restrictions of The Lawyers Act (Revised) Law No:30/2004, SOLLA by
virtue of its mandate & functions is proposing by spearheading the drafting of a supplementary bill that
is hopefully expected to be tabled in The House of Representative (HOR) which would subsequently
establish the SOMALILAND LAWYERS ASSOCIATION ACT in order to provide the Society with statutory
mandate, objects, and conduct of the affairs of the Society and for connected purposes.
To this end, SOLLA with a new leadership blood is inter alia advocating for legislation establishing the
bar as a professional body capable of suing and being sued with powers and functions in:
- Assisting the Government and the courts in matters relating to legislation, the administration of
justice and the practice of law in Somaliland;
- Upholding the Constitution of Somaliland and advance the rule of law and the administration of justice;
- Ensuring that all parties who practice law in Somaliland or provide legal services in the country
meet the standard of learning, professional competence and professional conduct that are
appropriate for the legal services they provide;
- Protecting and assisting the members of the public in Somaliland in matters relating to or ancillary or incidental to the law;
- Set, maintain & continuously improve the standards of learning, professional competence and professional conduct for the provision of legal services in Somaliland;
- Determine, maintain and enhance the standards of professional practice and ethical conduct, and learning for the legal profession in Somaliland.
- Facilitate the acquisition of legal knowledge by members of the Society and ancillary service providers, including paralegal through promotion of high standards of legal education and training.
- Represent, protect and assist members of the legal profession in Somaliland in matters relating to the conditions of practice and welfare;
- Formulate policies that promote the restructuring of the legal profession in Somaliland to embrace the spirit, principles, values and objects of the Constitution of Somaliland;
- Facilitate the realization of a transformed legal profession that is cohesive, accountable, efficient and independent;
- Establish mechanisms necessary for the provision of equal opportunities for all legal practitioners in Somaliland.
- Protect and promote the interests of consumers of legal services and the public interest generally, by providing a fair, effective, efficient and transparent procedure for the resolution of complaints against legal practitioners,
- Develop & facilitate adequate training programs for legal practitioners;
- Linking with bar association from African countries and Islamic nations whose legal systems are more akin to ours.
- Do all such other things as are incidental or to the foregoing functions.
NEED FOR REFORMS IN THE PROFESSION?
The chairman of the Bar association Mr. Mohamed Mohamud Hashi, a young energetic and one of the
best legal brains in the country after thoroughly examining the difficulty facing the courts in terms of
delay, backlogs of cases and grievances raised by most litigants, that justice is unattainable in corridors
of justice despite the entire general population of the country being a meagre of 3.5 million. Mr. Hashi
is therefore calling for the following transformation for uplifting access to justice to all walks of
- Establishment of a Judicial Training School to deliver & impact induction courses for novel Magistrate, Judges, State Counsel/Prosecutors, Private legal practitioners to inculcate them with practical law as oppose to theoretical aspect acquired from the 4 years of undergraduate law school.
- Launching of Council of continuous legal education for all members of the profession to keep them at par with emerging contemporary legal trends, development and fashion these growths in the discipline in our own way by incorporating our culture and religion. This is because law is a dynamic discipline fluctuating with emergence of new crimes.
- Amending the constitutional chapter on judiciary to integrate the security tenure for judges of the High Court to cushion them from executive interference that would hinder just, fair, impartial, objective, unbiased as well as prejudicial verdicts & judgements.
- Lawyers’ Licensing Board to be a committee elected or appointed under the proposed SOLLA’s Act with complete disciplinary powers to investigate errant counsels under supervisory role of the leadership of the bar.
In his tenure as the bar chairman he envisages, a country where the laws are clear, stable, just and are
applied evenly; where fundamental rights are protected, a country where the process by which laws are
enacted, administered and enforced is accessible, fair and efficient.
His priority assignment at this juncture however, for realization of justice, is the reformation of the laws
operating in the country which most if not all are inherited from former Somali Democratic Republic
which out of our own volition we merged with. One shocking application of these statutes especially the
ones relied by our judiciary on a day to day basis; The Penal Code, The Criminal Procedure Code, The
Civil Procedure, The Civil Procedure Code and The Organization of Judiciary are outdated, obsolete,
tyrannical, oppressive, despotic and does not have room for evolving crimes and civil wrongs. The
lawyer’s boss is optimistic that National Reform Commission established after President Silanyo’s
election would accelerate the pace of reforms for a just, fair and impartial decisions of our judiciary ones
they come up with homegrown Acts of parliaments that serves answers to our unique problems
different from Somalia’s.
Mr. Hashi is questioning, if we are de-facto state independent of Somalia, why then apply legal
instruments enacted 30 years ago with no prominence in today’s Somaliland societal hitches?
The lawyers’ boss other night mire is how legal practitioners can acquire trainings on new areas where
local legislations do not either exist or the law is silent.
He has approached a number of legal organizations willing to support his members acquire essential
courses on innovative law and constantly follows up on their initiatives.
Positive transformation of the bar is inevitable, but only time will tell before the expiry of M.M. Hashi
tenure as the national chairman of SOLLA.
CHIEF COMMUNICATION OFFICER,
SOMALILAND LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (SOLLA)
ABDULHAKIM MOHAMED OSMAN