Malawi Law Society (MLS) has revealed that the Judiciary issued a strong letter disapproving the lawyers’ body’s move to investigate judges over delayed cases.
In a report presented at the MLS Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Mangochi at the weekend, the society’s president Patrick Mpaka told members that when a MLS-Judiciary special task force started engaging judges directly at the High Courts Commercial Division over delayed cases, the Judiciary protested.
He said the registrar of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal and the High Court of Malawi wrote MLS a letter disapproving the move it described as “interference with the independence of the Judiciary”.
At the time the letter was issued, the special task force had engaged three judges, Mpaka said.
He said the letter from the Judiciary became part of the deliberations during the society’s 2022 AGM where a resolution was made to continue engaging the judges.
“Following the 2022 AGM reflections and resolutions on the matter, on 15th April 2022, the executive committee wrote the registrar, seeking an audience to update the Judiciary on the decision of the AGM. This meeting never materialised,” reported the MLS president.
The MLS move followed general concern that some judges take forever to conclude cases, thereby frustrating the course of justice.
Past efforts by the Judiciary to clear case backlogs have often hit a snag. MLS has previously reported that some cases, especially in the Industrial Relations Court, have taken over a decade and that in some cases, claimants or witnesses died before seeing justice.
Meanwhile, Mpaka, who was first elected as MLS president in 2021, has retained his position unopposed and will lead the body for another two years.
Unlike in previous years, this year lawyers across the country cast their votes in all High Court of Malawi registries on Tuesday.
Previously, voting was conducted during the AGM and conference.
The announcement of the results was made on Saturday during the society’s 2023 AGM and conference in Mangochi.
According to official results, Tusume Mwabungulu is the new vice-president, replacing Felisa Mitambo while Gabriel Chembezi has replaced Chrispin Ngunde as honorary secretary. Ngunde is now MLS chief executive officer.
Phatuma Amasi retained her position as treasurer as did Robert Nthewa in the position of representative for the Central Region.
During the voting, MLS members also maintained Wesley Mwafulirwa as representative for Northern Region and also elected McHaven Ngwata to replace Remmie Ng’omba as chapter representative for the South.
Speaking in an interview, Mpaka said his reelection signified a vote of confidence by the society’s membership.
“The legal profession is a family of professionals and having served as its leader during the past 24 months, to be reelected is a measure of trust and confidence that the way we have managed the affairs of the society the members are comfortable,” he said.
Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda in a separate interview congratulated the new leadership and said lawyers were very key in national development.
“My special appeal to the lawyers is that they have to attempt as much as possible to refrain from getting involved in unethical professional misconduct because that brings the profession into disrepute,” he said.
MLS has since disclosed that it has compiled lists of cases pending before three judges as it continues with its campaign to speed up justice delivery locally.
In a December 9 2021 memo, MLS asked its members to submit details of matters pending before one High Court judge to substantiate claims that she was delaying cases.