Thinley Namgay

One of the current challenges for lawyers in the country is the prohibition on bringing file bags when entering the High Court (HC) and the Supreme Court (SC) as legal representatives.

Why, for the sake of justice?

As part of presenting evidence, lawyers need to carry numerous files by hand. The current practice is uncomfortable and creates a less professional appearance.

Lawyers are asking the HC and the SC allow them to carry bags, given their status as registered lawyers under the Bar Council of Bhutan (BCB).

Drangpon Phurba Dorji, the Registrar General of the Supreme Court (SC), cited security concerns as the rationale behind the prohibition of bags.

He emphasised the importance of court safety, citing past security lapses. However, he acknowledged the concerns raised by the lawyers and suggested discussing the matter with the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP).

He said that judiciary would also explore the possibility of placing metal detector doors in courts to enhance accessibility.

Lawyers said  that there was a need to maintain uniformity in rules across all courts.

Another challenge they face is the requirement to submit legal documents in Dzongkha.

Lawyers are urging the courts accept documents in either Dzongkha or English, aligning with the bilingual nature of laws and regulations in Bhutan.

Lawyers also expressed the need for online publication of court judgments to facilitate reference and research.

They find the current process of obtaining judgments lengthy and stressful.

An official from the Attorney General (OAG) said the OAG would publish judgments online from the 13th plan onwards.

Lawyers also highlighted concerns regarding the language in the H-12 representative form, which implies that lawyers bear all penalties and sentences of the litigant.

They called for amendments to this form.

Regarding pre-trial meetings with litigant, lawyers express frustration over not being able to meet litigant during police investigations. However, law enforcement agencies, RBP and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), said that involving lawyers in investigations could complicate the case.

Lawyers stress the importance of timely communication from the judiciary and the BCB regarding changes to court protocols. They emphasise the need for increased communication and consultation among lawyers, the BCB, and the judiciary to address common issues effectively.

Moreover, lawyers address misconceptions in society regarding their wealth, stating that the competitive market and the relatively small population pose challenges.

Lawyers also refuted claims of excessive charges, noting that fees vary based on the nature of the case and the lawyer’s experience and reputation.

Officials from the judiciary affirm that lawyers are entitled to charge fees within the bounds of the law.