Chandra not to pay $500k until appeal hearing

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Electoral Commission chairman Suresh Chandra. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Fiji Court of Appeal has ordered that former chairman of the Electoral Commission and lawyer Suresh Chandra not pay $500,000 to the Chief Registrar until a full appeal hearing is concluded.

The Independent Legal Services Commission on April 25, 2023 had ordered that:

  • Mr Chandra’s name be struck from the roll of the practitioners held by the Chief Registrar;
  • his law firm MC Lawyers seize to operate as or engage in legal practice with immediate effect; and
  • Mr Chandra pay a fine of $500,000 to the Chief Registrar.

Mr Chandra lodged an appeal to obtain a stay on those orders.

“The appellant and his firm has been without work since September, 2020 and it would be well-nigh impossible to pay the fine of $500,000 ordered by the commission and the failure to do so would lead to bankruptcy of the appellant and at least “a stay” be granted in that regard until the full court hears and determine the Appeal,” stated Justice Almeida Guneratne in his August 7 ruling.

Justice Guneratne refused to issue orders to reinstate Mr Chandra’s name on the practitioners roll and allow his law firm to operate again.

“The payment of $500,000 ordered in the Sanction Ruling of the Commission dated 25th July, 2023 in its order (C) is stayed until the hearing and determination of the Appeal by the full Court. The Registrar is directed to have the appeal pending before the full court listed for hearing in the September Court of Appeal session on a date convenient to parties after conferring with them.”

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