LexTalk World interviews Md Salequzzaman. Salequzzaman was called to the Bar of England and Wales from the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, London, UK in 2013 following successful completion of ‘Bar Professional Training Course’ from City, University of London, UK and LLB (Hons') from the University of Wales, UK in 2012. Prior to that, he obtained his first LLB (Hons’) in 2007 and LLM in 2008 from the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh. He was enrolled as an Advocate in Bangladesh in 2009 and as an Advocate of the High Court Division, Supreme Court of Bangladesh in 2015.
Salequzzaman appears regularly before both the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and the subordinate courts and has been dealing with Constitutional matters, Civil, Criminal, Commercial, Taxation, Company, Banking, Admiralty, Property disputes, PIL, HR etc. Prior to joining THE LEGAL ERA, Salequzzaman worked with a reputed law firm namely Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed & Associates (SIA&A), Dhaka as an Associate. He gained considerable experiences at SIA&A in advising clients, conducting Court hearing, providing Company Secretarial Services to local/foreign owned Company, conducting due diligence for foreign clients/firms and overseas chambers, finalizing all legal drafting etc. He also gained extensive experience on Intellectual Property, ICT, E-Commerce etc. at Old Bailey Chambers.
Host: Please brief us about your journey as a Legal professional so far.
Salequzzaman: Thank you for the question. In becoming a Lawyer, I basically fulfilled my parents dream although without any objection from my end. My father is an Advocate and probably this is why he wanted me to follow him, my wife is also a Barrister and partner of our law firm namely “The Legal Era”. My Father-in-Law is also from law background. He is a Justice of the Hon’ble High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and I should also mention here that Era is my only daughter as of now and I hope she will also be a part of this legal journey. I started my legal career in 2009 having been enrolled as an Advocate with Bangladesh Bar Council and while practicing, as you know, I went to London, United Kingdom to complete the Bar-at-Law Degree. Having been called to Bar of England & Wales, I came back to my country in 2014 and joined an Intellectual Property law chamber and worked there for 1 and half years. I was enrolled as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in April, 2015. Before Joining The Legal Era, I worked with a reputed law chamber namely Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed & Associates and trained in almost all areas of laws.
Since the beginning of my profession, I had to go through a lot of rigorous learning struggles to become a confident lawyer as I am today and I am grateful to all my seniors who trained me very passionately and effectively. In “The Legal Era”, we currently have 99% success rate. The reason behind our success is we always try to give proper and honest advice to our clients in regards to merits of their cases which help them to choose best actions.
Host: How do you give legal assistance to foreign clients like NRB's, Corporate entities?
Salequzzaman: We assist foreign clients on regular basis in incorporating various entities, post incorporation compliances, vetting various legal documents, providing corporate secretarial services etc. we also closely works with foreign law chambers specially by doing legal due diligence. Non Resident Bangladeshi’s mostly contact us for property related issues i.e. forming trust of properties, will & Probate, Gift, selling properties, claiming inheritance property, drafting & executing power of attorney from abroad and so on.
Host: Tell us about a complex legal issue you worked on. Describe the complexity and tell us how you approached it?
Salequzzaman: It’s really difficult to choose one, there are so many to remember specially. Ok, let me tell you about a case. You might know that Bangladesh became an independent country through a Liberation War. Bangladesh Government has always recognised the freedom fighters who fought for the independence of Bangladesh and our Government use to disburse monthly Honorarium to such listed freedom fighters and their families along with other benefits. One fine evening, more than 50 freedom fighters came to my chamber as client.
Their grievance was that the relevant Ministry of the Govt. Has without giving them any opportunity of being heard stopped payment of their monthly honorarium questioning their authenticity as freedom fighter that also after long 49 years. You might understand that they are all in their very old age, some has already died whose family came to represent them. I opined them to file a writ petition also known as judicial review. However, I found it very difficult to prepare the draft petition because they were not able to provide me many relevant documents. This was also not expected from them as they never imagined that they need to prove again after long 49 years by submitting documents that they fought for the Liberation war, 1971. Also the family of a deceased freedom fighter might not possess any document except proof of enlistment as freedom fighters. So, I decided to place the petition with the documents in hand and received order in favour of the freedom fighters. The smiling faces of the freedom fighters made me very pleased thinking that I did something for the real soldiers of this Country. I added the case in my pro-bono case list.
Host: The pandemic saw some courts begin moving towards more remote proceedings and availability. Is this sustainable, and a possible way to increase access to justice, in your opinion?
Salequzzaman: In short, I believe virtual courts have greatly increased access to justice. The virtual courts started running in Bangladesh by amending the current laws of the land by president’s order as the Parliament was not in session at that time of covid-19 outbreak. The limitations that we had during pre Covid situation was greatly overcomed by the running of virtual courts i.e. in Bangladesh, we have many pending cases and the Supreme Court has recently observed that the disposal rate of pending cases has gone much higher than the time when only physical court was running. Also, the accused are no longer requires to be present before the Judge physically and they can now give their presence from custody. Besides, lot of more digitalization are coming which will definitely ease the process of access to justice. In physical court the lawyer also need to run from one court to another and is suppose to follow and check physically whether his listed case has been taken up for hearing by the Hon’ble Judges or not. So, it was really difficult to manage multiple Court at a time but in virtual court we can observe the running of many courts just by sitting in the chamber.
Host: Time is money in any profession and in legal it's most of all. How do you ensure to make the best of your time as a lawyer?
Salequzzaman: It’s really difficult to manage time you know. As we also deal with foreign clients the time zone, holidays are different also and I always prioritize client’s needs & expectations by compromising my personal times. I try to utilize the time I spent in the car by for example replying Client’s queries and by socializing with family & friends over the phone. I also work while sitting & waiting in the court for possible hearing. Besides, at chambers, we have a dedicated research team who always collect and manage up to date laws, decisions both from local and international sources. Also we manage and organize our files in such manner so that we can follow our previously given opinions, drafts etc. which helps us cutting the time.
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