Priyantha Jayawardena, President’s Counsel, the newly appointed Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, is due to take his oath before the President shortly.
Jayawardena is an alumnus of Nalanda College, Colombo 10. Having completed his primary and secondary education, he joined Sri Lanka Law College. After he passed out from the Law Collage he apprenticed with the late Eardly Perera P.C. and Ranjit Abesuriya P.C. During this period he also worked as a Research Assistant to the Late Justice Mark Fernando and the Late Justice P. Ramanathan, two very illustrious judges of the then Supreme Court and was enrolled as an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court in the year 1988.
During his career as a Private Legal Practitioner, Jayawardena has worked in the chambers of a number of legal luminaries of our time including S.L. Gunasekera, Ranjith Abeysuriya P.C., and D.S. Wijesinghe P.C., whilst establishing a strong practice in his own right in the areas of Labour Law, Commercial Law and Public and Constitutional Law.
Jayawardena engaged in private practice for some time, and joined the Government Institutions Division of the Attorney-General’s Department in the year 1991, but departed shortly thereafter to the United Kingdom to pursue a Masters Degree in Commercial Law from the University of Aberdeen.
After his graduation he worked for the Grampian Welfare Rights of Aberdeen, Scotland and engaged in providing legal advice and services to the public. During this time Jayawardena also passed the Qualified Lawyers’ Transfer Test conducted by the College of London in the year 1993 and later enrolled as a Solicitor in England and Wales.
Upon returning to Sri Lanka pursuant to obtaining higher qualifications, he re-joined the Attorney-General’s Department and in the year 1994 he was appointed as a State Counsel. Whilst Jayawardena was serving the Attorney Generals Department he followed a Course in Commercial Law at the National University of Singapore in the year 1999.
During his tenure at the Attorney General’s Department, Jayawardena also worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during the period the Late Lakshman Kadiragamar was the Minister, assisting the Ministry with the resolution of the investment disputes between the Government of Sri Lanka and the United States. Further, he also served as a Consultant to the Ministry of Food, Internal and International Trade and Commerce in which capacity he prepared the initial drafts of the Consumer Affairs Authority Act No.9 of 2003, containing progressive legislative measures in the arena of consumer protection. He also served as a member of the Advisory Commission on Intellectual Property Law Office and a member of the Colombo Port Privatisation Legal Team.
Return to unofficial Bar
Jayawardena bid adieu to the Attorney General’s Department and returned to the Unofficial Bar in the year 2000 and started practicing at the bar. During this time he was appointed as a consultant to many institutions. In his capacity as Legal Consultant to the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects, he advised the Institute on drafting its regulations which were promulgated in the year 2005 and are in force to date. He was a Committee Member of the Core Group on Information Technology Law mandated with drafting of legislation on Information Technology, E-Commerce and Data Protection, and was one of the key minds behind the Electronic Transactions Act No. 19 of 2006.
He has also served as an Examiner and Tutor of Commercial Law of the Council of Legal Education, as a Visiting lecturer at the University of Moratuwa (Department of Building Economics), and at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management.
Ironically, it was Jayawardena who as a Consultant attached to the United Nations Development Project (2007) made recommendations on practices by which the independence of the Judiciary would be better enhanced and could be used as tools to eradicate bribery and corruption in Sri Lanka – as a direct result of which recommendations, the pensions of members of the Higher Judiciary, namely the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court judges were enhanced by the addition of allowances to their basic salaries, thereby benefitting large numbers of former, present and future judges.
Much sought after Legal Consultant
Jayawardena has been a much sought after Legal Consultant, being renowned for his ability to find innovative solutions for almost any problem within the existing legal framework. Sri Lanka Insurance, the National Engineering and Development Centre, the National Institute of Business Management, the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects, the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology, and the Lanka Ceramics Company are but a few of the institutions which he has served as Legal Consultant over the years and has served as an Arbitrator at the Institute for the Development of Commercial Law and Practice (ICLP). His services were obtained by many institutions under various governments.
He has a number of publications and papers to his credit and addressed a number of local and international seminars including the UNCTAD Regional Round Table Conference held in Colombo on e-Commerce and Development for Asia Pacific Countries (October 1999 – ‘A New Legal Framework for e-Commerce’)
Jayawardena has served as a Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka and as a Director of the National Savings Bank, National Savings Bank and Lanka Electricity Company.
In recognition of his skill, competence and integrity, he was appointed as a President’s Counsel by the President, and called to the inner Bar in the year 2012.