Tuesday, 6 July 2004  
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Legal luminaries sworn in as President's Counsel

by Sarath Malalasekera

The Supreme Court recently held a special ceremonial sitting for the swearing in of eight legal luminaries as President's Counsel.

Here are pen sketches of some of the new "Silks".

Peter Mohan Maithri Pieris was called to the Bar on June 19, 1975 and has been an active practitioner for twenty nine years in the Official and the Unofficial Bar.

'Mohan Pieris', Hohan to his dear and near ones, was enroled as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales in 1978. He served part of his apprenticeship in the prestigious Law firm of Messrs Julius and Creasy, Attorneys-at-law under the guidance of the late Mervyn Canageratna and devilled in the chambers of the eminent lawyer President's Counsel Daya Perera whose chambers he later joined as junior and also with late D.R.P. Goonetilleke senior counsel.

Mohan Pieris

In England Mohan received his training in the reputed firm of Solicitors Messrs Rose and Birn and Messrs Marcell and Company.

In 1981 Mohan joined the Department of the Attorney General where he worked as State Counsel and as Senior State Counsel until August 1996 when reverted to the Unofficial Bar. During his tenure in the Attorney General's Department he has had the privilege of being associated, as junior counsel with Attorneys General Shiva Pasupathy, PC, Sunil Silva, PC, Tilak Marapana, PC, Shibly Aziz, PC, the present Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, PC and the present Attorney General K. C. Kamalasabeyson, PC.

He also worked with the retired Chief Justice G.P.S. de Silva, PC, the then Additional Solicitor General Justice K.M.M.B. Kulatunga, PC, the then Solicitor General Justice Wadugodapitiya PC and the present Solicitor General C.R. de Silva.

During his fifteen years at the Attorney General's Department he had appeared in many important trials both in High Courts and in the Appellate Courts.

He had appeared for the State in diverse parts of the country, inclusive of the original courts in Matara and in the High Court of Jaffna and the Magistrate's Courts of Point Pedro.

Mohan was educated at St. Joseph's College, Colombo and at Royal College, Colombo. During his school career Mohan excelled in English and Sinhala Oratory, by winning the Gold Medals in English and Sinhala.

He captained the debating teams of both schools and represented both schools in the first eleven cricket, wherein he excelled as a wicket-keeper.

During his career in the Attorney General's Department, Mohan has been the beneficiary of being awarded a scholarship to the National Institute of Trial Advocacy at Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, "Training in Economic Crime," at the Centre for Police and Criminal Justice Studies conducted at Jesus College, Cambridge, United Kingdom, and "Training in the New Approaches to Foreign Investment Analysis and Negotiational Development of the USA with George Washington University. Mohan's wife Priyanthi is also an Attorney-at-Law.


Dr. Jayantha de Almeida Guneratne is an Old Boy of St. Joseph's College, Colombo, He entered the law faculty of the University of Colombo where he obtained the LL.B Degree. He took oaths as an Attorney at law in August 1977.

Dr. Jayantha de Almeida Guneratne

He first worked as a Legal Assistant in the Ministry of Justice and then as Assistant and Acting Secretary to the Law Commission and subsequently as a State Counsel in the Attorney General's Department. In 1980 he joined the Unofficial Bar and initially worked in the Chambers of President's Counsel Nehru Goonetailleke and subsequently in the chambers of President's Counsel Arthur Samarasekera.

Dr. Gunaratne has successfully argued several landmark appeal cases particularly in the realm of Public Law.

The non-applicability of the maxium acuts curare neminem grava bit to administrative decisions, the juridical link between absence of reasons and ultra-vires, the discriminatory administrative requirement that Tamil Citizens should carry, a police registration form, the forum principle in Administrative Law, the law relating to the burden of proof in the context of the CHP Law and the non-survivability of Pre-1978 statutory ouster clauses, the NWP Chief Minister's case, the Hali Ella Local Authority case,the Batticaloa-Vanni voter's case are some of those cases.

He possesses Masters' degree in Law, International Relations and Buddhist studies and a Ph.D. from Hawaii - the title of his doctoral thesis being "Concept of People's Sovereignty in the context of Autochthonous Constitutions".

His teaching career spans over twenty five years in regard to which he still maintains a link as a visiting lecturer and examiner at both the University of Colombo and the Sri Lanka Law College.

He has also authored several publications including a monograph on Constitutional Law (jointly with Mr. R.K.W. Goonesekera for the OUSL). The Swiss Constitution Lessons for Sri Lanka, reflections on the Japanese Constitution, Conceptual similarities between Buddhism and the Law.

He is the Chief Editor of the Appellate Law Recorder which supplements the Sri Lanka Law Reports. He is also a Consultant to the Law and Society Trust of Sri Lanka and Senior Consultant to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.


Gamini Nihal Fernando was educated at Royal College, Colombo. After passing out from Law College he was enroled as an Attorney-at-law of the Supreme Court on September 27, 1982. He devilled in the chambers of President's Counsel K. N. Choksy and President's Counsel J.E.P. Deraniyagala and was also attached to the chambers President's Counsel B.J. Fernando.

Gamini Nihal Fernando

He has been in active practice for well over 21 years mainly in the field of Commercial Law appearing in the District Court, Commercial High Court, Admiralty Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. He has an extensive commercial law practice and has appeared as Counsel in many leading cases including the recently concluded cases of Sampath Bank against the Hatton National Bank and Stassen Group and the case of Richard Pieris and Company against Dr. Yeddehige and others.

In the year 2003 he functioned as the Convenor of the Commercial Law Reform and Review Committee of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka having been appointed by Executive Committee. In addition to being an Attorney-at-law he is also an Accountant.


Harsha A.J. Soza was admitted to the Bar on December 18, 1974 on having passed the final examination for the admission of Attorneys-at-Law, with First Class Honours.

He followed this success with an Honours pass at the LL.B Degree Examination of the University of London. He was later enrolled as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England.

Harsha A.J. Soza

Harsha was educated at St. Joseph's College, Colombo where he excelled in his studies winning several class and open prizes. He won the coveted J.P. de Fonseka Memorial Prize for open English essay in his last year at school.

Harsha served his apprenticeship under President's Counsel K.N. Choksy and later worked in the chambers of such distinguished silks as the late Sam J. Kadirgamar, the late Eric Amerasinghe, L.C. Seneviratne, PC, Arthur Samarasekera, PC and Faisz Mustapha, PC.

He commands an extensive civil practice in the appellate and original courts and his services are widely sought after.

Harsha is a son of retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice J.F.A. Soza who is the Director of the Sri Lanka Judges Institute.









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