1992 – Letters Patent - Senior Attorney (SA)

With the accession of Mauritius as Republic Barristers could no longer become Queen Counsels (QCs) and the seniority was replaced by Senior Counsel (SC). The Judicial and Legal Provisions Act 1992 introduced a system of seniority for Attorneys under the name “Senior Emeritus for Mauritius”. This Act (No. 29 of 1992) amended the Law Practitioners Act by the insertion of a new section 9A whereby “the President of the Republic may, on the recommendation of the Chief Justice, by Letters Patent, appoint...(b) an attorney to be Solicitor Emeritus for Mauritius (S.E.M.)” The first Attorney to be conferred the title of Senior Emeritus of Mauritius was André Robert on the 11th September 1992. At the ceremony held in Court No.1 on the 21st September 1992 Sir Victor Glover, Chief Justice was to state “To-day's ceremony marks the end of an era, and the start of a new one, on two fronts. Firstly, we are making a united demonstration of the effect on the legal profession of the country's accession to the status of a Republic, as a result of the recent amendment to the Law Practitioners' Act 1984 which provides for a different type of distinction to be awarded for excellence in the profession. Secondly, as the amendment indicated, we have moved to a situation where attorneys can, just as well as barristers, obtain recognition for sterling service. I am particularly happy to have initiated this latter reform and trust that it will help to make attorneys forget the day when Lord Ackner, during an address at the University on the occasion of the celebration of the Bicentenary of the establishment of the Bar in Mauritius, compared them to housemaids.” Rajeshwar Bucktowongsing, who was the then president of the Law Society, addressed the Court on behalf of the Attorneys. For the first time since the days of the grandfather clause for the “avoués plaidant”, Attorneys were given a right of audience before the Supreme Court “in open Court”). Hon. Allan Ganoo on behalf of the Attorney-General's Office joined in the congratulations that have been offered by the Bench and the Law Society on the occasion of André Robert’s appointment as Solicitor Emeritus for Mauritius, and in his speech stated that “I am sure that it escapes no one in this Court that this particular occasion today is impregnated with a good measure of symbolism. It is the first time this high distinction is being bestowed on a law practitioner since its creation in the wake of the occasion of our country to the status of a Republic. Its conferment on André Robert no doubt gives an indication of the degree of excellence and standard of professional performance and the many human qualities that this distinction of the Republic purports to reward” Below the photos are taken on the occasion of ceremony of conferment of title of SA of Andre Robert on 21st September 1992:

  On the 5th September 1994 the Letters Patent and title of Senior Emeritus for Mauritius was conferred to Vincent Koenig, Maxime Sauzier, Sacheedanand Veerasamy, Gunness Ramdewar, Patrick Balmano and Guy Rivalland. At the ceremony held in Court No.1 on Tuesday the 13th September 2004, Sir Victor Glover as Chief Justice was to remind that “I am privileged to preside over the presentation of Letters Patent… to certain attorneys, something which does justice to a profession that had so far been limited to one Solicitor Emeritus”…. “This is undoubtedly the last of the numerous innovations I have thrust upon you during the last few years”. Sir Victor was to end his speech with the following “I shall now call upon you to step forward, safe in the knowledge that none of you shall ever, as has regrettably happened of late, soil your gown by donning it for solely political motives.” Rajesh Bucktowongsing, who was the then president of the Law Society, addressed the Court on behalf of the Attorneys by these opening words: “I have once again the pleasure and privilege to address Your Lordships on this memorable occasion. The distinction conferred upon Messrs. Maxime Sauzier, Vincent Koenig, Sacheedanand Veerasamy, Abdul Kader Rajah ,Guy Rivalland, Patrick Balmano and Gunnes Ram¬dewar, is, I hope, not only honorary but is above all a recognition for hardwork, devotion, respect for clients and the Courts and dedication to the cause of Justice”. Rajesh was to state that: “Indeed we, attorneys, feel greatly honoured by this decision of His Excellency The President of the Republic of Mauritius who has acted on the recommendation of Your Lordship the Chief Justice. This is yet another in-dication of the trust and faith which the Judiciary has in us. However, recently the legal profession, as well as the Judiciary, have been subject of criticism. Rightly or wrongly, nobody has been spared. Judges, Magistrates, Attorneys, barristers and even pupils have been the subject of adverse comments in certain quarters. We cannot and should not remain indifferent to those comments nor should we overreact. It is therefore quite natural that all members of the legal profession and .the Judiciary should unite their efforts and act as-one-to come up with concrete proposals which might help to give a better image of the profession.. It is my humble wish that the legal profession becomes a true 'confrerie' where respect and honesty should prevail”. On the 25th September 2004 the Law Society organised a diner at the Maritime Hotel for the newly appointed Senior Emeritus for Mauritius and newly appointed Chief Justice R. Lallah. Below some of the photos taken on the occasion of diner at Maritime Hotel:

 

The title of "Senior Emeritus of Mauritius" was changed and was replaced by the title of "Senior Attorney" (S.A) on the 21st June 1995 by virtue of Act No. 6 of 1995.

On the 19th July 1995, the following members of the profession were conferred the title appointed of Senior Attorneys: Balkrishn Gokulsing, Georges Robert, Abdul Kader Rajah, and Osman Abbasakoor. At the ceremony held in Court No. 1, Sultan Sohawon on behalf of the Law Society mentioned that: “This is the third time since its establishment after the accession of our country to be status of Republic that such an appointment is made to members of the legal profession, and most particularly to the profession of Attorneys…This appointment is not only an appreciation of the loyalty, integrity and ability of the attorney in the practice of his profession but it also marks the achievement of a career which started when the said attorney first joined the profession as an articled clerk. No doubt it is a personal satisfaction for the honoured lawyer and his family. But it is also an honour which is bestowed on the whole of our noble profession and the members forming part of it. Let this occasion be a perpetual reminder for all of us to reiterate our full conviction and belief in the ideals of our noble profession for the good and proper administration of justice”. The last to receive their Patent Letters were to be followed by Georges Ng Wong Hing and Manogaran Mardemootoo on the 20th March 2003. Below is a photo taken at the ceremony of conferment of the Letters Patent of Senior Counsel and Senior Attorney in 2002: