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Profiles of New President's Counsel

Hemantha Warnakulasuriya

COLOMBO:Entering the legal profession in 1972, Hemantha Warnakulasuriya now counts a legal career spanning over 34 years. At Royal College he launched a handwritten newspaper titled Hela Bima and together with his friend Indika Gunawardena he wore the National costume to school.

With the premature death of his father W. P. Arnolis Appu from Tangalle, Hemantha had to cut short his schooling to manage one of the biggest transport fleets in Sri Lanka. He was elected President of All Ceylon Lorry Owners Association at the age of 19. He then got involved in Arts and became a founder member of the Ape kattiya, a group headed by the versatile dramatist Sugathapala de Silva.

This group produced several plays such as Thattu Geval and Harima badu hayak'.

He then tried his hand at producing films. His attempt to produce the first Sinhala musical titled Samanlayo which ended in failure. But, as the saying goes, failures are the pillars of success, through this failure he introduced to the film industry several leading lights such as Sugathapala de Silva' the script writer cum co-director and D. B. Nihal Singhe as co-director cum cinematographer.

Hemantha together with Professor Douglas Amerasekere, turned to writing on very controversial and topical matters. They wrote critiques on Maname, population explosion, 'romanisation of the sinhala alphabet', 'colloquial Sinhala' and poverty alleviation.

He contributed regularly to English newspapers on art, culture, and cricket and on comparative religion or rationalism.

At Law College Hemantha pioneered a students' forum called 'New Trends Forum'. Hemantha with his friend late Suranjith Hewamanne produced a Sinhala play titled 'Atakayai Natakayai'. Which was funded by the Forum and the Law Students' Union. He set up Law Students Trust to help needy students.

Hemantha became the Secretary of the New Courts Law Chambers. Which was later called the 'Colombo Magistrate's Court Lawyers Association'. From the time of enrolling in 1972 he took an active role in the affairs of the Bar Association.

He was appointed convener of the 'Professional Affairs Committee', which drafted the "Code of Conduct and Etiquette for Attorneys-at-Law'.

The then Secretary, W. P. Gunatillake, paid a glowing tribute to him and the committee, as the only committee which met regularly and completed its mandate.

As the Assistant Secretary of Bar Association, he was successful in rallying lawyers to protest against the killing of Wijayadasa Liyanaarchchi. In 1989 he was elected the Secretary of the Bar Association.

His innovative projects, which were inaugurated during his tenure of office, still hold an important place in the calendar of the Bar Association. They are, Continuing Legal Education Programme, Monthly Newsletter, National Law Conference and Neethi Ranga.

His project to help apprentice law students to work as clerks for judges, which enabled them to earn an allowance, and the quarterly Law Gazette, were abandoned by the Bar for lack of funds.

He was the chairman of the Legal Aid Commission for nearly ten years and was instrumental in obtaining funds from donors and decentralising the functions of the commission by having branches in the outstations.

He was thereafter elected Deputy President of Bar Association. He recommenced a programme, titled 'nithi neethi ugenuma' to conduct a continuing legal education programme in Sinhala throughout the island with the assistance of World Bank.

It has become an important event of the Bar Association. As the Chairman of the Legal Aid Foundation, he negotiated with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to institute Legal Aid Foundation Units in every branch. He obtained funding, to the equivalent of nearly 32 million rupees and established nearly 13 branches.

If the project continued as planned, every single branch would have had a unit with computers and all other equipment necessary to run a Legal Aid Office.

As one of the leading criminal lawyers in the country, he has appeared virtually for every important case, either for the accused or for the prosecution, if the case had been instituted in the Magistrate's Court of Colombo.

On the July 7 he will be invested with 'Silk' at a ceremonial sitting of the Supreme Court.


Razik Zarook

COLOMBO: Razik Zarook Lawyer, Diplomat and former Chairman of a number of Public Corporations is a Senior Attorney who was enroled to the Bar in 1969.

He started his practice in Matara in 1969 and within a short period established himself as much sought after and versatile lawyer particularly in the Southern Provincial Courts. Today he enjoys a wide practice both in Colombo and the outstations.

Zarook is extremely proficient in all three languages and at Law College had the unique distinction of leading the Sinhala debating team whilst also a member of the English debating team. He won the S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike Gold Medal for impromptu English oratory.

His management career came into the limelight when he was appointed Chairman of the Cooperative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) by the then Trade and Shipping Minister late Lalith Athulathmudali PC. He was given the responsibility in turning around the CWE to become an efficient and viable much sought after consumer organisation responsible for the wide distribution of essential commodities without any artificial scarcities even during turbulent times.

Under his tenure, the CWE was a model profitable and viable organisation having diversified and acquired many assets developing real estates and establishing a number of public quoted companies such as Sathosa Motors Limited, Sathosa Printers Limited and Lanka Milk Foods Limited of which he was founder Chairman.

He also held office as Chairman of the Agricultural Development Authority and National Aquatic Research and Development Authority (NARA). The late President Premadasa appointed him as Ambassador to the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and thereafter as the first Ambassador to Hungary.

Subsequently he was appointed as Singaporean High Commissioner. Apart from his professional education at the Sri Lanka Law College, Zarook is also an Alumni of the Indian Institute of Management Ahamedabad.

He is also the Past President and Honorary Member of the Sri Lanka Institute of Packaging, a Fellow and Past Senior Vice President of the Institute of Management of Sri Lanka and Past Director General of the National Management Conference.

He has participated and presented numerous papers on International Trade and Shipping at a number of international fora.

He is an old boy of St. Servatius, College, Matara and Zahira, College Colombo.


Palitha Kumarasinghe

COLOMBO: Palitha Kumarasinghe enrolled as an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on September 27, 1982. He had his primary and secondary education at Mahinda College, Galle. He entered to Sri Lanka Law College in 1979.

Having devilled in the chambers of Romesh de Silva, PC Kumarasinghe is in active practice in the Colombo District Court, commercial High Court of the Western Province and the Superior Courts. He has an extensive commercial law practice and is the counsel for a large number of State and Private Banks, Merchant Banks and Finance Houses.

He is a regular counsel for Hatton National Bank, Seylan Bank, Sampath Bank, Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka, Srilankan Airlines, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited, several Regional Plantation companies.

Kumarasinghe is the Lecturer in Banking Law and Practice for Apprentice Law Students and also, lectured in Special Apprentice Course conducted by the Sri Lanka Law College. He was also a speaker in Banking Law Session of National Law Conference - 2003 and Continuing Legal Education Programme sponsored by LJRP/World Bank for practising Lawyers.

Kumarasinghe presented a paper on "Legal Issues in the aftermath of the tsunami in Sri Lanka". He also presented papers in various Commercial Law Topics in Law Conferences, seminars and legal publications in Sri Lanka. He has trained a large number of junior Attorneys-at-Law.

Kumarasinghe was a vice president of Bar Association of Sri Lanka and the President of the Colombo Law Society a Lawyers Association with 1,300 lawyers practising in Colombo, in 2003/04 and 2004/05.

He is a Member of Bar Council for the last 16 years and was the Chairman of the Organising Committee for National Law Conference - 2004. He was actively involved in "Flood Relief-2003" and "Tsunami Relief" campaigns of the Bar Association. For several years, he has been a member of the Executive committee of the Colombo Law Library where His Lordship the Chief Justice is the President.

Kumarasinghe was a Member of Advisory Commission on Intellectual Property established under the Code of Intellectual Property Act and the Intellectual Property Act. During his tenure as a Member, the commission modernised and upgraded the Intellectual Property Law of the Country and presented the present Intellectual Property Act to the Parliament. He is also a Member of Working committee to solve problems of laws delay appointed by Justice and Judicial Reforms Ministry.

Kumarasinghe is presently serving as a Member of the Public Service Commission. He was appointed a President's Counsel by the President, on May 26, 2006.

Kumarasinghe is a distinguished old boy of Mahinda College, Galle. The Old Boys' Association of Mahinda College appreciated his services to Alma Mater at the Annual General Meeting held in March 2006.


Denzil Jayalath Gunaratne

COLOMBO: Denzil Jayalath Gunaratne was educated at St. Thomas' Collage, Mt. Lavinia. Having joined Sri Lanka Law College in 1970, he took his oaths as an advocate of the Supreme Court in July 1973.

He did his apprenticeship with late Eardley Perera PC and Daya Perera PC. In 1975 he joined the Attorney Generals' Department as a State Counsel. He served in that capacity in many parts of the island and reverted to the unofficial Bar after a few years.

In 1979, he joined the Judicial Service as a Magistrate and served in Kebithigollewa, Matara and Kegalle.

He left the judiciary in 1984 and practised almost exclusively on the criminal side.

He was appointed the Chairman of the Employees' Trust Fund Board by the President who was then the Labour Minister.

Having resigned from both the ETF and Dankotuwa Porcelain Limited, he continues to practise at the Sri Lankan Bar.


Harsha Cabral

COLOMBO: Dr. Harsha Cabral had his primary education at St. Thomas' College, Kotte, St. Benedicts' College, Kotahena, Dehiwala Central College, and secondary education at Royal College, Colombo. He had his tertiary education at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka Law College and the University of Canberra, Australia.

At Royal College he was an active member of the Sinhala Literary Association, the Geography Society and the Economics Society and won the Form Prize in 1975.

He commenced his studies in law as an external student at the University of Colombo passing his first in laws in 1983. He also passed the Executive Diploma in Business Administration at the University of Colombo with a first Class Honours, topping the batch and bagging the Asokan Anandarajan Gold Medal for the Best Performance and the Kundanmals Gold Medal for Business Administration.

He joined the Sri Lanka law College in 1985 and having successfully completing the Attorney-at-Law finals in 1987 joined the profession immediately thereafter. He obtained a first Class at the second year examination at the Law College.

He apprenticed in the Chambers of Dr. H.W. Jaywardene QC and worked in the said Chambers as a junior counsel till the demise of Dr. Jayawardene in 1990. He then joined the chambers of K. Kanag-Isvaran PC and worked as a junior counsel for almost a decade in the said chambers specializing in the fields of Company Law and Intellectual Property Law.

In 1999 he obtained a PhD in Corporate Law from Australia. His doctoral thesis was on shareholder remedies in Company Law which dealt with the company law in Australia, England, Canada, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

Dr. Cabral commands one of the biggest practices in Intellectual Property Law in Sri Lanka. The very first case on 'software piracy' in Sri Lanka and the very first case on 'trade secrets and undisclosed information' in Sri Lanka were handled by Dr. Cabral.

Dr. Cabral is a lecturer and examiner in Business Law at the Colombo University for the LLB programme, a lecturer and examiner in Intellectual Property Law at the Sri Lanka Law College for the post Attorneys and pre attorneys, a lecturer and examiner in International Trade Law and a member of the Faculty Board, University of Wales, UK for the LLM programme, a lecturer and examiner in Commercial Arbitration at the Institute for Commercial Law and Practice (ICLP) and a former lecturer in Company Law and Commercial Law at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka.

He is a regular speaker at public seminars on Corporate Law, Intellectual Property Law, Commercial Law and Commercial Arbitration in Sri Lanka and abroad.

He is currently a commissioner of the Law Commission of Sri Lanka, Member of the Advisory Commission on Company Law in Sri Lanka, and a member of the National Council for Economic Development (NCED) - Legal Cluster.

He is the General Secretary of the Business recovery and Insolvency Practitioners' Association of Sri Lanka (BRIPASL), a Member of the Corporate Governance Committee, a member of the Subject Review Committee on Intellectual Property, Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, Consultant, Sri Lanka Law College Law Journal and a Member of the Sri Lanka Law College, Syllabus Review Committee. He is currently assigned to advise the Government of the Maldives on implementation of legislation and application of Commercial Arbitration.

Dr. Cabral has been the Chairman of the Junior Bar of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka in 2003/2004 and has chaired and organised several key projects of the Bar Association. He is the convener of the National Law Conference to be held in November 2006.

He has been an active Committee Member of the Colombo Law Library, a Member of the Court of Appeal Management Committee and Committee appointed to expedite commercial litigation in Sri Lanka.

He has been chairman of the sub committee on Company Law Reform in the Company Law Advisory Commission in 2004 and a Member of the Patent Committee of the National Science Foundation Dr. Cabral has also been an active member of the Colombo Jaycees.

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