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Local counsel disbarred for malpractice

l Fadley Faisal l

The Court of three Justices of the Supreme Court who convened for the first time in Brunei, yesterday ordered lawyer Rozaiman Abdul Rahman be struck off the rolls of Advocates and Solicitors of the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam. This means Rozaiman can no longer act as a lawyer.

Rozaiman was the President of the Brunei Law Society from 2014 to 2017, 2018 to 2019, and subsequently the Vice-President from 2021 till he stepped down following a complaint.

He was the sole proprietor of the law firm initially named ZICO RAR then changed its name to Rozaiman Abdul Rahman Advocates & Solicitors.

The landmark case arose out of a complaint lodged in early 2021 by one of his clients, Nadzaty, who was also a family friend.

File photo of Rozaiman Abdul Rahman. PHOTO: Media Permata

In 2015, Nadzaty engaged Rozaiman to act against two individuals for defamation. Apart from any damages and costs claimed by her, she was particularly anxious to obtain an open public apology.

The court heard that “She paid him BND5,000 in advance for the work he was to undertake as her counsel and adviser.”

“…. The action made slow progress” and the complainant became “somewhat anxious as to its progress”.

“Her concern was well founded,” the court further thought.

It was also in the court’s findings that “What had happened, on the initiative of Rozaiman alone, without any recourse to, instructions from or honest information to her, was that he proceeded to negotiate with the defendant’s solicitors in order to obtain a settlement out of court”.

It was further unveiled that Rozaiman had accepted BND7,000 “on behalf of his client and created, entirely unknown to his client, the essential court documents to compromise his client’s claim comprehensively. At no stage had he communicated to her any aspect of the negotiations and his final, arbitrary actions. Her signature was forged on one of the material documents following the “settlement” and “discontinuance”.

The court stated that after “settling” the matter, Rozaiman “maintained the subterfuge that the court action was still in being but delayed by pressures within the court system”. The court then referred to a series of WhatsApp messages between Nadzaty and Rozaiman showing Rozaiman’s continued deception that his client’s court action is still active when in fact he had “settled” it.

The court found that Rozaiman had committed “gross misconduct and dishonesty” and that there were no mitigating factors.

The court added that Rozaiman’s conduct “has all the features necessary to bring it within the category of the worst instances of a lawyer’s breaches of the code of conduct of his profession, with significant degrees of deceit and dishonesty”.

The Law Society was represented by Yusof Halim and Anlan Hee of Messrs Yusof Halim & Partners.

Chief Justice Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong, President of the Court of Appeal Justice Michael Peter Burrell and Justice Conrad Seagroatt sat in the proceedings.

More details on Thursday’s Borneo Bulletin 

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