Some members of Parliament (MPs) have applauded the introduction of the Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Bill which aims to introduce measures that will protect Malawians who seek legal services from private practitioners.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu tabled the Bill this week which, if passed, will create a Fidelity Fund whose money will be used to compensate victims of embezzlement by the lawyers.
Karonga Central MP Frank Mwenifumbo (Alliance for Democracy-Aford) attributed the frequent cases of embezzlement of client money by lawyers to lack of capacity of the legal profession.
Applauding the introduction of the Fidelity Fund, he said due to the shortage of lawyers in the country, it was costly to the ordinary Malawian to access legal services only to be frustrated with delays if it is to do with payments.
“What is needed is to increase funding to the Legal Aid Bureau, it is the only department that offers free legal services. When this happens, we will see less miscarriage of justice in the villages,” said Mwenifumbo.
Dowa East MP Richard Chimwendo Banda (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) lauded the Bill for taking into consideration interests of ordinary Malawians who fall prey to embezzlement by some lawyers.
On her part, Salima South West MP Jessie Kabwila (MCP) applauded the provision that would make it mandatory for lawyers to provide pro-bono (without a fee) services which she said would benefit vulnerable people who cannot afford private legal services.
“It is a very welcome and important Bill as the provision on pro-bono services will give an opportunity to rural and poor women to access legal services without the exorbitant charges,” she said.
However, Kabwila said there was a need for the Legal Affairs Committee to scrutinise certain aspects of the Bill such as the linkage between the Band Malawi Law Society.
The Bill seeks to create the Malawi Council for Legal Education which would be mandated to accredit tertiary institutions wishing to offer law degrees but it would be compulsory for all graduates to undergo a one-year postgraduate practical legal training. n