The Malawi Law Society (MLS) yesterday told the Judiciary in the face that a majority of its members are worried with the slow progress in timely delivery of judgements and orders.
MLS president Mandala Mambulasa, speaking on the grounds of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal and High Court of Malawi during the annual sherry party to mark the start of a new court session in the judicial calendar, said there were strong voices within the MLS membership and during its last general meeting held last week to boycott the sherry party because of that reason.
He said: “We shall not stop complaining until we see change. We are proposing that one of the ways to address the problem of undue delays in justice delivery of judgements is to have a stipulation in the law that provides the maximum periods within which a judgement or an order of the court is to be handed down.”
Mambulasa said even though challenges exist, a clear legislation on how long people can wait for rulings would be a good starting point.
In her remarks, Chief Justice Anastazia Msosa conceded that the public is complaining bitterly about delayed judgements as noted in some of the articles in the media pertaining to complaints of delayed judgements.
She said the Judiciary will continue to work hard to ensure that all judgements that are more than six months old are delivered.
Said Msosa: “I am aware that under the new Civil Procedure Rules, judgements will have to be delivered within three months. As for criminal cases, judges are already aware that judgements are required to be delivered timely, even soon after completion of the hearing of the cases. This applies to both in the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal of Malawi.”
On his part, Kaphale urged members of the Judiciary to desist from corruption and corrupt activities, saying any member of the jury who will be caught in corrupt practices will face the long arm of the law.
In an attempt to clear a backlog of judgements, in April last year the Judiciary appointed six judges at its Blantyre Registry to concentrate on writing outstanding judgements.
Supreme Court of Appeal judge Dunstan Mwaungulu, who was judge-in-charge at the Blantyre Registry then, said the case backlog was too huge and “even an embarrassment” to disclose the figure to the public.
Lawyer Justin Dzonzi, who is executive director of Justice Link, is on record as having urged the Judiciary to avoid a repeat of a situation where it may have a judge sitting on a judgement for over 10 years.
The function was attended by, among others, Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale, former chief justice Lovemore Munlo, Law Commissioner Gertrude Hiwa, High Court and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judges, magistrates and lawyers.