Malawi Law Society (MLS) has been challenged to promote sanity in the law profession by ensuring that badly behaved lawyers face disciplinary action to encourage professionalism in their day-to-day business.
Justice John Katsala, Judge President of the High Court – Commercial Division, made the remarks during the official opening of MLS conference and annual general meeting in Mangochi Friday.
The conference will end today.
Katsala, who was the guest speaker at the conference and delivered a speech titled ‘where is that lawyer’, challenged the delegates to be professionals who can be trusted to bring hope and sanity in the country.
Katsala called on the society and other senior legal practitioners to train and orient up-and-coming lawyers on professionalism and court practices.
“I was reminding the lawyers that, as professionals, they need to remain professional in their day-to- day business. There are many issues, for example, simple issues like the way they groom themselves, their dressing, training and orientation on court practices.
“I have noticed that most of the times, especially for the young lawyers, they are not very well prepared for their appearance in court, so we tend to face some glitches and even the quality of representation that they display is not up to date,” he said.
Katsala said lawyers are stakeholders in the justice system by law and profession saying they are officers of the court and, as such, they must act like it.
“To ensure professionalism, there are two ways; first, as I have said, they need to train the lawyers adequately in terms of professional conduct. They need to reinforce their disciplinary mechanisms, those that are errant, they need to face disciplinary actions. Usually, when people see that those who misbehave are disciplined, others are deterred from misconduct,” he said.
MLS president Burton Mhango said misconduct has always been there but was quick to say the Legal Education and Practitioners Act will help tackle some of the issues raised.
“The coming in of the new Legal Education and Practitioners Act has got a good influence on the members, now they are able to comply with the many issues we are talking about. Issues like professionalism, issues of swindling clients’ money, the new act which we are reflecting on today [Friday] is one of the areas we are talking about.
“The new act has created a number of requirements for lawyers to meet, these are some of the disciplinary issues that are set up,” he said.
Mhango said, through the main theme of the AGM – ‘contemporary issues in legal practice’ – the lawyers intend to look at some of the new areas that they have to be concerned about as professionals.
MLS is an umbrella body of all legal practitioners in the country.
The society has a combined functionality of being the association of professional lawyers on the one hand and regulator of the legal profession on the other hand.