Green light for FWCC to represent clients

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Shamima Ali at her home in Tamavua, Suva. Picture: ATU RASEA

The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre’s (FWCC) legal team has been given the green light to represent their clients in court after being handed a notice to stop representing third parties as they were not a law firm.

FWCC co-ordinator Shamima Ali said this issue was resolved after a meeting with the acting Chief Justice and Office of the Chief Registrar.

“We have just come out of one trauma. Our lawyers were forbidden to practice last year in court,” she said.

“We have just resolved that issue with the acting CJ and the Office of the Chief Registrar. So we still getting into those kinds of things because our lawyers, they don’t go for every case.

“Their job is to do a lot of our policy stuff. We have a team of five lawyers. It is almost like a legal law firm.

“But we had to do that because there were too many laws coming out and we could not keep up with that. And you know, the crisis center was a targeted organisation by the previous government.

“So, we had to make sure everything, our taxes, our everything was done properly. We’re following the law every time. We had to get them in like submissions to the parliamentary committees and all those things.

“But then they do emergency cases like child recovery and things like that.” She said often times, women could not simply rely on Legal Aid for help.

“Legal Aid is not for women only. It’s for everybody. So often they are stretched, and they are not gender sensitised to deal with these cases. So it’s easier for us to be able to do that, our lawyers to be able to do that.”

Ms Ali said in emergencies, cases were referred to a law firm and often this was carried out pro bono or through friendly rates.

Some of the instances in which they provide assistance is assisting in domestic restraining order applications, child recovery, family law except property matters, child residence, maintenance and absconding husbands.

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