HEAD OF CHAMBER
MR. ABDUR RAZZAQ
Abdur Razzaq-Siddiq (also known as Abdur Razzaq) is a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. He also practices law in the United Kingdom from his professional chambers at 14 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4QH. Mr. Razzaq specialises in Constitutional and administrative Law, Banking and commercial Law, Labour Law, Telecommunications Law, Employment law and International Criminal Law.
Chambers Asia 2016:
‘Abdur Razzaq of The Law Counsel is a highly regarded and established practitioner with particular expertise in constitutional and criminal law.’
Chambers Asia 2012:
‘Abdur Razzaq handles Sharia banking and general corporate matters. He is also a highly respected litigator, who regularly appears before the Supreme Court. … Seasoned practitioner, Abdur Razzaq is recommended for his extensive experience in a broad range of dispute resolution. Sources commend him for his skill as an advocate, and his deep understanding of public law.’
B.A. (Hons), M.A.
1980 – Called to the Bar by the Hon’ble Society of Lincoln’s Inn; London.
1981-82 – First six-month pupillage in the Chambers of Sir Michael Havers, Q.C.; (A former Attorney General), 5, Kings Bench Walk, Temple, London EC4.
Second six-month pupillage in the Chambers of Lord Peter Rawlinson, Q.C. (A former Solicitor General and also a former Attorney General) 11, Kings Bench Walk, Temple, London EC4.;
1982-85 Practised in the Superior Courts of England, including the Court of Appeal, from Professional Chambers at 9 Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn, London, WC2.
Member of the Bar of England and Wales, and entitled to practise in all Courts in the United Kingdom.
1986 – Enrolled as an Advocate in Bangladesh.
1986-87 – Lecturer, Dhanmondi Law College, Dhaka.
1988 – Enrolled as an Advocate of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
1994 – Enrolled as an Advocate of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
2002 – Enrolled as a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
2001- present: Chairman of Institute of Research and Development, Dhaka
1994- present: Secretary General of the Centre for Human Rights, Dhaka
CONSTITUTIONAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE LAW:
In the three decades since the commencement of his practice in Bangladesh in 1986, Mr. Razzaq has built up a substantial constitutional/administrative law practice, having been involved in numerous high profile public law cases which have had a lasting impact in the legal arena.
- Represented litigants in successfully challenging the constitutionality of the Public Safety Act, a draconian and repressive law used by the State to clamp down on political dissidents (Afzalul Abedin vs Government of Bangladesh, reported in 8 BLC 601). Following Mr. Razzaq’s challenge, the law was struck down and Parliament repealed the Public Safety Act.
- Represented members of the Supreme Court Bar Association in challenging the constitutionality of the Contempt of Courts Ordinance, 2008, which was struck down as unconstitutional by the High Court (M. Shamsul Huq and others vs Bangladesh, reported in 15 BLC 236).
- Represented a group of academics and journalists in a widely publicised judicial review application which exposed corrupt practices in the granting of telecommunication licences by the Ministry of Information (‘the Ekushey Television Case’). The Supreme Court judgment in the case expanded the realms of public law and continues to be regularly cited in public interest litigations (Ekushey Television Ltd. vs Dr. Chowdhury Mahmood Hasan, reported in 54 DLR (AD) 130).
- Represented the former Editor of one of the oldest newspapers in Bangladesh, ‘The Daily Ittefaq’ in the Supreme Court in an ownership dispute with a former Minister of the Government of Bangladesh, which involved issues relating to interpretation of constitutional provisions and the boundaries of administrative law (Anwar Hossain vs Mainul Hosein, reported in 58 DLR (AD) 229).
- Represented the Chief of the largest Islamist party in Bangladesh in a judicial review application challenging revocation of his citizenship and deportation. The landmark Supreme Court judgment contains an authoritative interpretation of the citizenship laws of Bangladesh (Professor Ghulam Azam vs Bangladesh, reported in 46 DLR (AD) 192).
- Represented a former Member of Parliament in challenging the action of the State in preventing him from leaving the country in a Supreme Court case which contains an authoritative interpretation of constitutional provisions relating to freedom of movement. The Supreme Court judgment is cited every time a citizen is prevented by the Bangladesh Government from traveling abroad (Allama Delwar Hossain Sayedee vs Bangladesh, reported in 16 BLC (AD) 1).
- Represented residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts before the High Court in successfully challenging the constitutionality of the Regional Council Act and several provisions of the Hill District Council legislations (Md. Badiuzzaman vs Bangladesh, reported in 15 BLC 531).
- Represented Members of Parliament in successfully defending their decision to submit resignation letters to the Speaker of the Parliament enmasse in order to press home their demands for a non-party administration to oversee the holding of Parliamentary elections culminating in the enactment of the 13th amendment to the Constitution (Rafique Hossain vs. Speaker, Bangladesh Parliament, reported in 47 DLR 361).
- Represented a senior journalist in the High Court in defending the constitutionality of the 13th amendment to the Constitution, which introduced the ‘Caretaker Government’ provisions for holding Parliamentary elections under a neutral regime (M. Saleem Ullah vs Bangladesh, reported in 57 DLR 171).
Mr. Razzaq has represented foreign and local clients in a variety of commercial disputes in the civil courts as well as in arbitration proceedings, with particular expertise in international trade and commerce. Mr. Razzaq has also been engaged in all major litigations involving issues of Shariah in the banking sector. Chambers and Partners (Asia Pacific, 2014) described him as having ‘a longstanding reputation for litigation and Islamic financing work.’ As a specially appointed counsel of the National Board of Revenue, he has represented the Bangladesh VAT and Customs authorities in the Supreme Court in numerous customs, VAT and Income tax cases.
- Represented a foreign bank in a proceeding challenging the legality of the underlying international commercial transaction in an appeal proceeding before the High Court which involved interpretation of the provisions of UCP 400 (Korean Exchange Bank, Seoul, Korea vs Gemini Garments and others, reported in 56 DLR 392).
- Represented the largest ship building company in Bangladesh before the Supreme Court in a dispute with Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority arising out of a World Bank funded transaction (Ananda Builders Ltd. vs BIWTA, reported in 57 DLR (AD) 31).
- Represented Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd., in the first case in which Shariah based financing was recognized by the Supreme Court as a form of banking (Alco Hygienic Products Limited vs Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited, reported in 47 DLR 264).
- Represented First Security Islami Bank Ltd. and EXIM Bank Ltd. in the High Court in proceedings instituted for their conversion into Shariah-compliant banking.
- Represented the largest Shariah compliant bank in Bangladesh before the Supreme Court in relation to its claims for tax exemption against the National Board of Revenue in relation to payments of Zakat (a charitable payment) made compulsory by the Central Bank on all Shari’ah based banks (Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd. vs Commissioner of Taxes, reported in 14 BLC (AD) 145).
- Represented the country’s leading state run bank in a complicated appeal before the High Court which involved interpretation of the Contract Act and the Partnership Act (Pubali Bank Ltd. vs Sultana Oil Mills Ltd., reported in 51 DLR 323).
- Represented the Bangladesh Customs and VAT authorities before the High Court in a judicial review application challenging the exercise of search and seizure powers by customs and VAT intelligence officers, which involved interpretation of the provisions of the VAT Act (Opsonin Chemical Industries Ltd. vs Director, Customs Intelligence and Investigation, reported 9 BLC 110).
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW:
Between 2011 and 2013, Mr. Razzaq appeared as Chief Defence Counsel before Bangladesh’s first ever War Crimes Tribunal constituted to try commission of crimes against humanity and genocide during the War of Liberation in 1971. Mr. Razzaq represented as many as 6 defendants before the War Crimes Tribunal and the Supreme Court and was instrumental to shaping the jurisprudence of international criminal law in Bangladesh. His robust defence of defendants before the War Crimes Tribunal was praised in an independent report on the Trial of International Crimes in Bangladesh authored by Geoffrey Robertson QC – ‘defendants have been represented by capable and courageous counsel, especially … where defence teams have been led by Abdur Razzaq, a Lincoln’s Inn barrister’.
- Acted as Chief Defence Counsel in the case of Chief Prosecutor, International Crimes Tribunal vs Abdul Quader Mollah. The Supreme Court case involved interpretation of a retrospective amendment to the law that was enacted by Parliament to allow the State to file an appeal to the Supreme Court for enhancement of punishment (Abdul Quader Mollah vs Chief Prosecutor, reported in 66 DLR (AD) 289).
- Acted as Chief Defence Counsel in the case of Chief Prosecutor vs Professor Ghulam Azam before the International Crimes Tribunal-1, Dhaka, which involved issues relating to application of the principle of command responsibility under Bangladesh law.
- Acted as Chief Defence Counsel in the case of Chief Prosecutor vs Ali Ahsan Md. Mujahid before the International Crimes Tribunal-2, Dhaka which involved issues relating to joint criminal enterprise and superior responsibility.
Mr. Razzaq has wide experience of dealing with clients in the telecommunications sector. Under his leadership, the firm assisted Dhabi Group of UAE in preparing their successful bid for a telecommunications licence for providing telecommunications services in Bangladesh.
- Recently advised VimpelCom on expansion of their services within Bangladesh, including, advising on restrictions on transfer of customer data, legality of storage of user communication, data retention obligations, legality of providing OTT VoIP/Chat services, data security breaches; and reporting obligations.
- Recently, advised the world’s largest IT company in respect of the proposed expansion of its services in Bangladesh.
- Represented public interest litigants in the first major telecommunications litigation in Bangladesh, the Ekushey Television Case, which exposed corrupt practices in the granting of TV licences.
- Represented a local television channel in a litigation challenging the validity of its operations before the Supreme Court.
- Represented and advised a number of satellite television channels of Bangladesh, including RTV and NTV regarding all aspects of their operations.
ANTI-CORRUPTION/ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING LAWS:
- As Senior Partner of The Law Counsel (which is a TRACE Partner Firm), prepared and updated country reports and guidelines on anti-corruption issues.
- Regularly advise banks and financial institutions regarding application of anti-corruption and anti-money laundering legislations.
- Advised the largest private bank in Bangladesh regarding allegations of counter terrorism financing operations made by the U.S. Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations.
- Preparation of reports on potential local partners of foreign clients in respect of compliance with US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Drafting policies for multinational companies on governance issues and compliance with anti-corruption and anti money laundering legislations of Bangladesh
PAPERS PRESENTED IN SEMINARS:
- ‘Human Rights In Islam: Issues of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine’ (presented at the International Islamic University, Dhaka 30th September 2004),
- ‘Bangladesh: the Prospects and Means for Strengthening Democracy’ (presented at a conference in Wilton Park, England organized by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 23rd June 2007),
- ‘Re-thinking Strategies: Islamic Movement in Bangladesh’ (presented at a seminar organized by Centre for Policy and Research, UK, 12th October 2007),
- ‘Islam and Democracy’ (presented at a seminar jointly organized by the Institute of the Study of Diplomacy of the Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and the South Asian Society, a student group of the same university, with support from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank based in Washington D.C.)
- Presented a paper at the National University of Singapore on the International Crimes Tribunals of Bangladesh in 2012.
- ‘The Tribunals in Bangladesh: falling short of international standards’ in Trials for International Crimes in Asia (edited by Kirsten E Sellers), Cambridge University Press, 2015.
- ‘Citizens are also responsible for Bangladesh violence’, Al-Jazeera 4th March 2016.
- The New International Economic Order, The International Economic Structures, The Future of World Trade Organisations, (World Jurist Association, Washington, D.C., 1991, 1993 and 1995).
- The Future of Bangladesh (The Daily Star, 13th October 2009).
- Backward March of a Nation (The Daily Star, 29th December 2006).
- Fundamentalism, Terrorism, Democracy and Islam (The Daily Star, 15th September 2005).
- Democracy, Caretaker Government and the Future of Bangladesh (The Independent, 7th June 2005),
- Rule of Law and Good Governance (The Independent, 9th May 2004),
- India Factor in Bangladesh Politics (The Bangladesh Observer, 3rd June 1998),
- An Anatomy of the Current Political Deadlock (The Independent, 26th October 1995),
- Bangladesh Politics: Needed a Qualitative Change (The Daily Star, 15th December 1995),
- The Cairo Conference on Population and Development, Human Rights and Moral Issues (The New Nation, 26th September 1994),
- Should We Study Islamic History? (The Bangladesh Observer, 13th May 1994),
- Bosnia: Death of a Nation (The Bangladesh Observer, 10th June 1993),
- Legality of the US led war in the Gulf (The Bangladesh Observer, 2nd February 1991),
- Future Elections under Caretaker Government (The Bangladesh Observer, 19th March 1991),
- Co-Author: “Street Children in Bangladesh and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”, (Radda Barnen Bangladesh, 1991),
- Democracy’s New Journey and the Caretaker Government (The Bangladesh Observer, 25th December 1990),
- Violence in Politics has many origins (The Bangladesh Observer, 23rd September 1989),
- Supreme Court and the Constitutional Crisis (The Bangladesh Observer, 17th June 1987).