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The New Zealand Law Society says the Fiji government's raid on the Fiji Law Society's offices is a "very serious development".

Society president John Marshall said an independent legal profession and judiciary were vital elements in the rule of law.

Fiji government authorities raided the society's offices and removed files on Saturday night.

Society president Dorsami Naidu told Radio New Zealand the new chief registrar, Ana Rokomokoti, and men in plain clothes demanded entry to the society's Suva offices.

One staff member was threatened with arrest.

They then took confidential files relating to complaints against law society members, and the chief registrar told staff a decree had been issued effectively deregulating the society.

The decree removed independence for lawyers, Mr Naidu said.

The move follows the military regime's move to reappoint judges last Friday, six weeks after firing them all.

Those reinstated included two High Court justices who previously ruled that the military's 2006 coup was legal.

The society was told it would no longer be in charge of licensing lawyers and membership would no longer be compulsory.

All practising certificates would expire on June 30.

Mr Naidu said the government would be in charge of licensing from then on.

Auckland queen's counsel Peter Williams, who defended New Zealand businessman Ballu Kahn against the regime, said the raid showed the regime wanted complete control, which was "not unusual for dictatorships".

Mr Williams said the government "did not want the independence of a law".

"They don't want their activities to be reviewed, or to be in any way questioned," he said.

Fiji's interim attorney general Aiyaz Sayed-Khayum said reforms to the society would improve transparency.

Fiji's military ruler Commodore Frank Bainimarama ousted the government in a 2006 coup and installed himself as prime minister.

He has vowed to rewrite the constitution and electoral laws to remove what he called discrimination against the country's large ethnic Indian minority before holding elections.

Critics say he shows little sign of being willing to give up power.

Law societies in Fiji, Australia and New Zealand have urged lawyers in the three countries not to take up judicial postings to serve the regime.

Australian and New Zealand citizens often serve as judges in Fiji, which lacks enough homegrown senior lawyers.

- NZPA