The National Law Conference 2015 themed “Sri Lanka Legal Summit – Governance, Regulation and Investment – The way Forward” was held on the 4th and 5th of March 2015 at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo.

Today we live in changing times and priorities appear to have shifted. It is important therefore that in this Age when we have gone beyond traditional boundaries that legal systems must evolve and integrate into and facilitate the growth of commerce and industry thereby providing the necessary impetus to the development of a country and its people, within the framework of the Rule of Law whilst facilitating social justice.

It is in backdrop the theme for the National Law Conference was conceived in order to bring together diverse personalities from the Legal Profession, the State Sector and the Private Sector, and facilitate a knowledge forum and discussion enabling important stakeholders to share and exchange their views, opinions and plans for future Sri Lanka.

The inauguration of the National Law Conference was held on the 4th of March at the Atrium Lobby Cinnamon Grand. The Chief Guest was the Hon Chief Justice, K Sripavan and the key note address was delivered by Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Former Director Economic Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat. President of BASL Mr. Upul Jayasuriya also addressed the gathering while the welcome address was delivered by the Conference Chair Mr. Rajeev Amarasuriya. The inauguration was attended by judges, senior lawyers, private and public sector officials in addition to the participants, speakers and the panelists. The proceedings of the evening included performances entertainment items and the event concluded with networking cocktails.

The Technical Sessions of the Conference were held on the 5th of March at the Oak Room Cinnamon Grand.

The day commenced with the pitch setting for the Technical Sessions delivered by Deputy President Mr. Prasanna Jayawardena, P.C.

The first session was on Governance. Given the current economic and political environment, governance reforms play a significant role. Thus, this session included areas of Constitutional Reform including Electoral Reform, the establishment of Independent Commissions, Judicial Reform and the Right to Information. The presenter of this session was Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, P.C. and the panel discussion was Chaired by Mr. Geoffrey Alagaratnam, P.C., President Elect who was joined by Rtd. Hon. Justice Saleem Marsoof, P.C., Hon. Suhada Gamalath, Solicitor General, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne, Former Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Mr. N. Selvakumaran, Former Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Colombo.

With the changes in the socio economic context and the encouragement given by the CBSL for investment overseas as well as the open economic policy of welcoming foreign direct investments to Sri Lanka, it is necessary to be aware of the legal and regulatory framework applicable for such investments overseas as well as locally. The relevant state entities must also be made aware of the issues and difficulties that are often faced by prospective investors.
In this Session, two principal presentations were made by Mr. Hiran Cooray, Chairman Jetwing Hotels Ltd where he spoke on the experiences he faced in engaging in investment activities in Sri Lanka and Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, Deputy Minister of Highways, Higher Education and Investment Promotion followed with a presentation on the proposed changes to the government sector to further promote foreign investment.

The panel discussion for this session was chaired by Mr. K. Kanag-Isvaran, P.C. and the members included Mr. D. M. Rupasinghe, Controller of Exchange, Mr. Jagath P. Wijeweera, Director General of Customs and Ms. Renuka M. Weerakone, Executive Director, Investment and Promotion, Board of Investment of Sri Lanka

In the modern context, Regulators play a pivotal role in the industries that they regulate. At times there is a need for under – regulation whilst at other times proper regulation is a necessity. The representatives of the principal Regulators, i.e. the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka mapped their strategies for their respective industries at the final session which was on Regulation. The presenters were Hon. Dr. Harsha De Silva, Deputy Minister for Policy Planning, Economic Affairs, Child, Youth and Cultural Affairs, Mr. Arjuna Mahendran, Governor Central Bank of Sri Lanka and Mr. Thilak Karunaratna, Chairman Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka.

They were joined at the panel discussion by Mr. Sankarshana. A. Parathalingam, President’s Counsel who chaired the panel and Mr. Rajendra Theagarajah, Director / Chief Executive Officer National Development Bank PLC and Mr. Rajeeva Bandaranaike, Chief Executive Officer, Colombo Stock Exchange

The participants comprised of Attorneys-at-Law, the private and state sector.

The Principal Sponsors of this Conference were Dialog Axiata PLC, The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and the Bank of Ceylon.