Women Lawyers Association takes Msundwe costs battle to judge

NYIRENDA— This is taxpayers’ money

Women Lawyers Association (WLA) wants a judge to hear the matter in which the State is challenging costs which the High Court awarded the lawyers for handling the Msundwe women rape case.

Assistant Registrar Brian Sambo has allowed WLA to take the hearing to a judge after being satisfied with WLA’s application to have a judge look at some of the issues which the association says have arisen as the Attorney General (AG) is challenging the costs in court.

“Upon hearing counsel for the applicants for the application for the referral of the review of costs proceedings to a judge in chambers made pursuant on Order 25 rule 2 of the Courts (High Court) (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2017, it is hereby ordered and directed that the review of costs proceedings should proceed before a judge,” the order reads.


A sworn statement in support of the application by WLA’s lawyer Hilda Soko says the applicants want the court to determine the liability of the respondents, whether the AG should adduce new evidence, how that evidence can be adduced and the actual procedure of review.

“I believe that if the above-raised issues are not heard and determined by a judge, at this stage, the applicants would have been party to proceedings which purport to be what they are not and do not comply with the rules as this will indirectly provide a backdoor appeal of an award of costs to the paying party,” the sworn statement reads.

AG Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda confirmed being served with the order but was quick to say the State would challenge the order at the inter-partes hearing.


“You have to understand that the application and the order were made ex-parte, which means we were not heard. It is an ill-conceived application which we will challenge. This is taxpayers’ money we are talking about.

WLA, who offered their services pro-bono (on voluntary basis), was awarded K255, 684,112 as costs for handling the Msundwe women rape case after the court awarded the women a total of K130 million.

The bill was heavily criticised by sections of the society, who perceived the bill as exorbitant.

A Malawi Human Rights Commission report into the matter showed that the women were, indeed, raped but a Malawi Police Service leaked report on the issue indicated that the allegations were fake.

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