50 Years of service in any sector is admirable, but a man who has dedicated 50 years of his life to preserving and enhancing the rule of law has to be highly commended. On 20 November 2014, a special event was held at 9 Bedford Row in London to pay tribute to Mr Fritz Kodagoda and his numerous accomplishments both in and out of the court room.
The event was efficiently organised by the Association of Sri Lankan Lawyers in the UK (“ASLLUK”) together with Commonwealth in England Barristers’ Association (CEBA) with light hearted speeches, complimentary food and wine and plenty of photo opportunities. The event was visited by Judges, Barristers, QC’s, Solicitors, members of Mr Kodagoda’s family and friends whom he had made along the way. Amongst the well-wishers there were Lord Avebury, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, HHJudge Michael Lawson QC, HHJ Barbera Mensa and HE Sarath Wijesinghe.
The night was opened by Harendra de Silva QC, the president of ASLLUK, who is also a close friend of Mr Kodagodas. Harendra de Silva QC spoke a few words about his experiences with Fritz before inviting Lee Karu QC, also of ASLLUK, to present a commemorative plaque to Mr Kodagoda. Lee Karu QC was very expressive about how grateful he was to have Mr Kodagoda as his friend and he was especially proud to have the honour of presenting the plaque to him.
The night was usurped by Mr Kodagoda himself who spoke next to deliver a most enjoyable speech entitled “My life as a Lawyer – 50 Not Out” which recounted his most memorable experiences and anecdotes from his 50 years of service. Fritz started off by explaining how his family had influenced him to enter the world of law and the struggles he experienced as a young lawyer in Sri Lanka. The best part of his account came when he described the differences between the Bar in Sri Lanka and the UK. Any young lawyer present at the occasion would have learned a lot from his history as he reminded us all that even the most accomplished lawyer had to start at the bottom and work their way up.
Mr Kodagoda’s history is certainly an interesting one full of humorous anecdotes and memorable challenges. His reflections on attending Ceylon Law College in Sri Lanka were delightfully recounted especially when he informed the audience of the tricks he had learned to familiarise himself with legal rationale. Mr Kodagoda also recounted his early days of work as a Barrister in the UK and how he had to adapt himself from the Sri Lankan legal system to that of the UK. He paid tribute to the many friends he had made along his journey and made sure to thank them for the help he had received from them.
Vote of thanks by Mr Ariya Sriharan former president of Middlesex Law Society took place after Mr Kodagoda’s speech that was met with high applause from those present on the day and the night went on afterwards with food, drinks and conversation amongst the attendees. The night was well rounded to say the least; it was tasteful executed with a light air of humour and great conversation. Let’s hope that it was a memorable one for Fritz.