It has come to Aliran’s attention that lawyer Charles Hector and eight of his clients are facing legal action for possible contempt of court.
Hector is acting as the lawyer for eight defendants who are part of communities that have been protesting against logging in the forests in the vicinity of where they live and work.
The plaintiffs are logging contractors who are appointees of the logging licence holder, Pengurus Besar Yayasan Pahang, a Pahang state statutory body. [Though the licence has been awarded to this body, approval to start logging has not yet been given.]
As part of the defence’s trial preparations, Hector had sent a letter on behalf of his clients, seeking clarification from a person, who is also a civil servant, over certain disputed facts contained in a letter that the latter had previously issued.
The plaintiffs are now alleging that Hector’s letter is in breach of an interim injunction/court order they had obtained in November 2020. This has resulted in a hearing for ‘leave of court’ to initiate contempt proceedings against Hector and the eight defendants scheduled for 25 March 2021 at the Kuantan High Court.
This initiation of contempt proceedings against Hector and the eight defendants is extremely worrying and can be seen as a travesty of justice.
Silencing a lawyer through contempt proceedings is essentially preventing the lawyer from carrying out his professional duty to his clients.
Aliran calls for the upholding of the rights of litigants to a fair trial. A lawyer should not be deprived of his right to prepare for a trial, including obtaining all the salient facts to argue his case in court. The defendants should not be denied their right to a counsel of their choice.
16 March 2021