lawyers have been encouraged to turn their attention to the rapidly developing concerns emanating out of issues like climate change and #COVID19.

In closing the two-day 22nd Attorney-General’s Conference, the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said currently, quite often, cases pertaining to such emerging concerns have been dominated by one or two law firms while others have steered clear of it.

The A-G also told the lawyers that the #FijianGovernment will be bringing to Parliament three new bills in the next Parliament sitting to address some of these issues, including a bill that formalizes the financial relief being extended to Fijians who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

“I think many practitioners in the private sector, in the private practice are losing out potentially in a lot of work because they’re simply not giving enough time to understand each of the new and very rapid areas of development in law,” he said.

As a consequence of the job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Fijians were not able to meet loan repayments or payments to hire purchase companies.

The A-G said once COVID-19 started affecting Fijians, the Government very quickly had meetings with a number of the providers- banks and hire purchase companies- to ensure cooperation and collaboration, to defer principal payments, in some cases defer interest payments. “And as has been the case that there was an agreement, not in writing but the general agreement.

A gentlewomen or gentlemen’s agreement that this would continue till the end of December, which is coming to end in a few weeks’ time.” Another topic discussed during the conference was copyright and consequently, #Fiji is in the process of updating some of the archaic laws dealing with this.

“I don’t know how many of you actually know but our current Trademark’s Act goes back to the Trademarks Act of 1933, our Patent’s Act, current patents act that is relevant to Fiji goes back to 1879 and our designs act goes into what we call the UK designs Protection Act, 1937.”

“Now you’d be glad to know that these three bills will be tabled in Parliament next week for the committee to actually review.” A major area of development, legally and financially, was climate change.

The A-G said that while they might have heard about carbon trading from the speakers, carbon trading actually will mean that there’s going to be property rights. “I understand a lot of lawyers in this room do a lot of conveyancing and you have not actually thought about carbon trading.

Many of you are dealing with conveyancing so at the moment you actually are able to register under what is called the register carbon sequestration property right under the Climate Change Bill.

Please look at that.” Speaking of carbon trading, he said a lot of people when they think about carbon trading, they are actually only thinking about terrestrial carbon trading which is forest up in the hill somewhere when in fact, there’s also blue carbon- mangroves, sea grasses and so on.

“In fact, blue carbon or the blue economy has got a much higher level sequestration rate – the stuff in the sea, the mangroves are actually able to suck in more carbon, the trees have a higher level sequestration rate, like three to four times more.”

The A-G said the various sessions have helped to better inform lawyers of the developments in numerous areas and he hoped that it would ignite some interest in them to take up such cases.

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