Richard Naidu case: High Court refuses application for leave to intervene

High Court judge Justice Jude Nanayakkara says he sensed the Fiji Law Society (FLS) wanted to intervene in the contempt of court proceedings against Suva lawyer Richard Naidu to influence the court’s decision.

He said this in his written ruling refusing the FLS’s application for leave to intervene in the contempt of court proceedings against Mr Naidu.

Justice Nanayakkara accepted the FLS’s submission that the court had the discretion to allow a non-party to intervene in a case in order to improve the quality of information that was available to the court on wider issues than the parties may wish to address, so long as the parties would not be prejudiced by the intervention and it did not create the impression of partiality.

He said that since the FLS had the duty to represent, protect and assist members, and the respondent was a member, the FLS would not be able to provide material assistance to the court on an independent and objective basis.

Justice Nanayakkara said it was clear that the Attorney-General had “the exclusive responsibility of protecting the public interest in the case” and he was sure the FLS “did not have an interest upon sense of public interest that extended beyond the interests of the A-G”.

He said he failed to see how he could be assisted by FLS presenting submissions on the topic of public interest, which the A-G intended to address.

He also said the A-G vigorously opposed the application and that the risk of prejudice and unfairness to the A-G was greater by the intervention of FLS because the FLS may not be impartial.

“Moreover, no attempt has been made by FLS to demonstrate to this court as to what are the points which FLS may wish to advance before this court,” he said.

Justice Nanayakkara said FLS had not shown the court that in the past it had applied to intervene in proceedings concerning other legal practitioners who were also charged with contempt of court, in its responsibility for the public interest.

“In the circumstances, it is doubtless true that the Fiji Law Society is seeking to intervene in litigation before me with the objective of influencing the court in order to attain what they perceive to be a favourable outcome.

“I have a strong sense that they might move to play an active advocacy role by persuading the court to resolve one or more of the issues raised in the litigation in a manner that they considered desirable.”

He said he was not convinced this was an appropriate case on which to give the leave sought and refused the application.

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