Who watches the watcher?

 

Judge Esmie Chombo’s lamentations of clandestine corrupt dealings between lawyers and court officials have brought into question the integrity of the country’s justice system which is supposed to serve court users with unquestionable honesty. Who will watch the watcher? Is there anywhere to run? What are regulators doing about the alleged rot in the judicial system? In this interview, our Staff Writer REX CHIKOKO takes the burning questions to Malawi Law Society chairperson Khumbo Bonzoe Soko.

Soko: MLS does not shield its members

Q

: What do you make of the professional conduct of legal practitioners you are leading?

A

: The Malawi Law Society, as the regulator of the legal profession in Malawi, does from time to time receive feedback and or complaints from members of the public and institutions such as the Judiciary on the conduct of its members.

These complaints are attended to with the deserving seriousness every time they are made as the society understands that it has the legal duty to ensure that the standing and credibility of the institution of lawyers is preserved. Where its attention is drawn to specific instances of professional misconduct, the society always

ensures that such allegations are fairly but firmly inquired into by its disciplinary committee.

The society does not shield its members from discipline when circumstances warrant that they face the same.

The number of disciplinary cases that have been successfully inquired into by the disciplinary committee over the last couple of years will clearly show that any contrary view, no matter how passionately held by some, is simply not borne out by the facts.

 

Q

:How safe are Malawians before the legal practitioners?

A

: Lawyers are citizens of this State first and like everyone else are under the laws of the land. The practice of the law does not extend to committing brazen acts of criminality. When this happens, the expectation of the society is that law enforcement agencies will investigate the cases and take such action against those involved as the evidence of the investigation will demand.

 

Q

: Has MLS met and discussed these allegations? what is the position of MLS?

A

: Given the key role that they play in the delivery of justice, it is of course always important that lawyers, as officers of the court, conduct themselves with the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. Any suggestion that this is not the case is an obvious cause for worry for the legal profession and the society. The society has always engaged in frank and sober discussions with the Judiciary on what needs to be done on both sides of the professional relationship to ensure that justice is delivered to litigants in a manner that is timely, efficient and free from the damaging influences of corruption. This is a dialogue that the society will continue to have with the Judiciary at both local and national level. n

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