Registrar on vacation takes job at Al-Rawi’s firm | Local News

Who’s telling the truth?

Conflicting releases from the Judiciary and the law firm of Al-Rawi, Haynes Soo Hon and Co about the employment status of the Registrar of the Supreme Court have raised eyebrows in the legal fraternity.

The law firm is owned by Mona Nahous Al-Rawi, the wife of former attorney general now Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government, Faris Al-Rawi.

The Judiciary issued an internal memo indicating that Ag Registrar (of the Supreme Court) Kerri-Ann Oliverie was proceeding on vacation leave and that Raymond Roberts, Deputy Registrar (Ag) of the High Court, has been appointed to act as Registrar during the period of her leave, which is from April 1 to May 31.

“We wish Ms Oliverie an enjoyable vacation and also extend our every good wish to Mr Roberts during the period of his acting appointment,” the memo, which was issued by Carl A Francis, Court Protocol and Information manager, said.

The Judiciary’s memo gives the impression that Oliverie is to return and, based on the wording, suggests that she is still in the employ of the Judiciary.

However, at the same time, the law firm Al-Rawi, Haynes Soo Hon and Co has made an announcement that Oliverie has joined the firm’s team of attorneys.

“Al Rawi, Haynes Soo Hon and Co welcomes Kerri-Ann Oliverie to our team of attorneys.” It added: “Kerri-Ann is a welcome addition to our firm and brings with her over ten years experience in the areas of family, probate, wills, estate planning and mediation. Kerri-Ann will lead the family, probate and estate planning section of the firm.”

It is the second time that attorneys have given up positions in the State to work with the spouse of Faris Al-Rawi. Al-Rawi himself is no longer tied to the firm.

Zelica Haynes Soo Hon, who worked in the Office of the Attorney General during Faris Al-Rawi’s tenure, also left to take up a position as an associate at the law firm managed by the former attorney general’s spouse, a move which is said to have sent “shock waves” through the ministry.

Officials close to the situation said it remains unclear whether the Registrar is on vacation or has left the employ of the State to take up a new job at Al-Rawi’s law firm. They noted a full-time employee of the State is not allowed to take up work elsewhere if the (person) is still collecting a salary from the State as happens when someone is on vacation leave and should be a “cooling-off” period.

Officials have raised the question of whether the Office of the Attorney General or associated departments have been used as a recruitment ground and whether the State’s stock of lawyers with proven ability was being depleted for the benefit of a family law firm that is connected to the former attorney general.

Nothing untoward

The Registrar is a powerful person who, among other things, is in charge of assessing legal costs of the probate registry, as well as is responsible for writs of execution.

“The Registrar of the Supreme Court is a senior judicial officer who is supposed to operate with a high degree of independence from the executive. Nevertheless, the Attorney General is the line minister for the Judiciary,” an official said.

On the other hand, it is felt there was absolutely nothing “untoward” or “anomalous” about what had transpired, as competent attorneys of the State are poached all the time.

On the issue of whether public office has been used to tap talent for a private law firm, an official countered that the former attorney general has nothing to do with the firm, which is run by his spouse and Haynes Soo Hon, and further, the former AG neither worked at the Judiciary nor Al-Rawi’s law firm.

It was pointed out that State attorneys leaving for more lucrative employment has been a practice and the brightest people in the State often get poached by other people.

“Their brilliance sometimes takes them into private practice. And mobility into private practice is entirely a personal choice,” one official said.

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