BASL Convocation - 2016


Speech by Mr. Geoffrey Alagaratnam, PC, President BASL At its 42nd Annual Convocation held on 26th March, 2016 at Committee Room B of the BMICH

My Lord the Chief Justice, The Hon Minister, The Hon. Attorney General, Their Lordships and Ladyships of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, Learned President’s Counsel, Judges of the High Court, District Court, Magistrate’s Courts, my dear colleagues and friends

Thank you for electing me for a second term, uncontested, keeping with the traditions of our association and this noble profession 

You of the Bar have once more affirmed that you stand for a united non political, non religious and non racial profession - in short a Bar with no divisions.  To my mind this, as well as the traditions of the Bar, which we should always strive to uphold whatever the difficulties, will augur well for the growth of our profession in a globalized and connected world.

Almost one year ago I stood before you as your forty first President. Today I stand once more as the forty second. A year ago I spoke of the need to build the capacity of our members especially the junior members of the profession. I spoke of the need for programs towards this I spoke of the need for a permanent Secretariat to provide continuity and better coordination among our members and for betterment of our activities because we office bearers come and go over limited periods of time. I spoke of the need for the Bar to be a respected public voice in the interests of the Rule of Law, Democracy and the Nation.

I have set out in my personal communication to you as well as in my message in the Annual Report the activities carried out by us in the last year and what we aim to achieve. We had our ups and downs. We have to consolidate, improve and strengthen what we have done and build on them to achieve greater excellence. There is more to be done and more to achieve.

The Bar is playing and has to play a greater role in governance and democracy. It has to be of greater service to society. Above all charity begins at home and to achieve all of these we have to build greater unity and capacity of our members.

In this endeavour I earnestly solicit the your support and help,  especially  from the senior members of our profession. Many seniors do help us to grow and grow strong. But yet I honestly feel that the support of seniors is not as could be expected. We have a common goal and we are a legal fraternity. We moan falling standards and falling levels of professionalism but how much have we done, in our individual capacity, to assist and improve? It is always better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. The blemishes or failings of any of us reflect on and affect all of us and the profession. We cannot adopt a defeatist attitude or resign ourselves to a fate that the profession has seen better days. It is only with unwavering commitment that that we can stem the flow of adversity and leave the future generations of our profession a profession they can be justly proud of.

We can be comforted that at present the Bar enjoys the confidence of both the judiciary as well as those involved in governance. His Lordship the Chief Justice and the other members of the judiciary have demonstrated their goodwill and eagernessto engage with the Bar towards betterment of the justice system. Those in governance have manifested the intention to engage us as an independent professional body towards working together in the interests of good governance and democracy. It is my fervent hope that this support will not only continue but grow from strength to strength.   We have at all times received the institutional support of Hon. Attorney- General and Hon. Solicitor General and their officers who are essential for the success of our work in the justice system.

Together nothing is impossible. The Bar, the Bench, Juniors, Seniors, those in the practice and the academia, young and the old, need to come together to better our lot and my team and I are committed to give leadership to our noble profession in this respect.

I thank you for your presence and look forward to your active participation and support in the endeavours of the Bar Association.

Now I also have the pleasant task for thanking the outgoing Executive Committee, my Council and especially the Management Committee and the  all members of the standing committees, who have through their contribution made my task lighter. I wish to thank the former Secretary Ajith Pathirana and Assistant Secretary Mr. Rajindh Perera, Mr. Dinoo Dharmaratne, the Treasurer for the support given. 

I welcome the new Executive Committee and the Council and I urge you to work with the Association collaboratively, purely in the interests of the profession, so that we can achieve optimum results.  I look to the Seniors for their wise counsel during my next term as I am convinced that they can make a valuable contribution and a difference to uplift the standards of the profession in a meaningful manner.

I also wish to thank the CEO and officials and employees of the Bar Association and in particular Sunil who worked tirelessly and with much dedication to ensure that today’s AGM is conducted smoothly and with precision.  

My thanks to my wife and daughter who have endured my passion for the profession and the Bar, and my Juniors, all of them who have assisted and helped me to navigate the myriad of surprises it offers at every corner.