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Malawi Law Society wants tough laws for errant lawyers

The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has said there is need for Parliament to pass tough laws on conduct of lawyers in the country.

The suggestion comes at a time some Malawians feel a number of lawyers are dishonest in the way they deal with people who seek their legal services.

MLS President, Khumbo Soko, told the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament in Lilongwe yesterday that the existing Legal Education and Legal Practice Act has limitations.

Soko said there are a lot of files of people complaining about lawyers but the society can only deal with them within the limitations of the current law.

“The fact of the matter is that the law that we are using has got a lot of limitations which basically affects how robust and agile we can be in dealing with those particular issues. That is why we were lobbying Members of Parliament today to support us and to enact this bill into law because it is going to remove the bottlenecks that we are experiencing in issues of indiscipline among our members,” Soko said.

MLS was contributing to the Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Bill which was referred to the committee for scrutiny.

He said, currently, it takes too long for a matter to be resolved and the impression in the public is that lawyers defend each other.

Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament chairperson, Maxwell Thyolera, said the committee has received MLS’ submission positively.

“That trend [of having errant lawyers] has continued for sometime because of the process that is taken to discipline such lawyers. This bill is addressing that challenge in that [crooked] lawyers will not be entertained and it will be taken as a criminal offence if a lawyer embezzles client’s funds,” Thyolera said.

On the qualification for admission to practise, MLS has noted the formalistic approach to admissions has sometimes led to the admission of practitioners with dubious characters, even in situations where the society and the Attorney General (AG) possessed information on unfitness for admission.

The society proposes an approach that allows the AG and MLS to recommend to the Chief Justice a refusal petition for admission where the applicant is not fit and a proper person.

The Legal Affairs Committee has been receiving comments from different quarters including ordinary Malawians who feel they have something to contribute to the bill.

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