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Law Society Of Zimbabwe Issues Statement On State Of Legal Profession In Zimbabwe

1 month agoWed, 03 Apr 2024 07:31:58 GMT
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Law Society Of Zimbabwe Issues Statement On State Of Legal Profession In Zimbabwe

The Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has refuted a report claiming that lawyers are stealing trust funds” and that some “700 lawyers” are under investigation for Trust Fund maleficence”.

In a statement, the Law Society of Zimbabwe described the report as “woefully inaccurate”. Reads the statement:

The Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has realised the need to issue this statement to correct reported information which was wrongly interpreted to the prejudice of the public.

For reasons unknown, a positive contribution to the literature on legal education has been turned into a weapon to attack the legal profession by some malicious commentators.

On 22 March 2024 Mr Lloyd Mativenga Mhishi, a senior member of our profession, launched his book, “Being the Best Lawyer” at a colourful ceremony which was well received and which, from the solidarity messages, was embraced by not only the legal profession but by other different sectors represented at this ceremony.

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The book based on the author’s personal experiences, is full of anecdotes which are aimed at motivating a positive behavioural change within budding lawyers seeking to achieve success as lawyers.

The book which is founded on the proverbial philosophy of experience being the best teacher, was warmly received by many lawyers.

The foreword to the book was authored by the Secretary of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Mr Edward Mapara, in appreciation of the useful lessons embodied in the book and as an endorsement of the value of the book to the profession.

In his speech launching the book, Mr Lloyd Mhishi bemoaned the waning standards amongst some legal practitioners.

This was latched on to by some sections of the media and commentators to sound the proverbial death knell on the legal profession.

Mr Mhishi did not refer to any statistics and did not expressly state the purpose of the book as aimed at unearthing the prevalence of unprofessional conduct, notably theft of trust funds.

He rather exhorted members of the profession to remain vigilant and protect the core values of the legal profession. The statistics purportedly presented by some sections of the media are woefully inaccurate.

The Law Society of Zimbabwe expresses its deep concern over the numerous posts which have found their way onto social media which are inaccurate.

The stories, dangerously generalise what was a practical peer review and professional introspection by a seasoned legal practitioner into an attack on the legal profession claiming, “lawyers are stealing trust funds” and that some “700 lawyers” are under investigation for Trust Fund maleficence” while “an average 100 lawyers are being de-registered annually”.

This could not be further from the truth. The statistics relied on in the media reports were plucked from another unrelated and equally distorted story from 2023.

It is sad that writers do not bother to fact check but rather prefer perennially recycling totally wrong information and packaging it for the public to grab cheap attention.

Such statements unnecessarily cause alarm and despondency among the public who entrust their legal affairs to the hands of the profession’s members.

The Law Society of Zimbabwe receives many complaints annually and has played its role as enabled by the relevant laws and policies in ensuring effective investigation of these complaints.

Some complaints found to be frivolous and vexatious have been summarily dismissed for lack of merit and within the scope of the relevant legislative and policy provisions.

There are indeed other cases with merit that have been investigated with strict adherence to administrative justice principles where both parties exercise their right to be heard.

In all cases where the implicated legal practitioners are found guilty of acts of unprofessional conduct, the LSZ Council has exercised its right to impose various deterrent measures as within its powers including but not limited to, fines and or reprimands.

In limited cases of a serious nature, the LSZ Council is statutorily mandated to refer the implicated lawyers to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (LPDT).

The Tribunal, on assessment of evidence from all affected parties has the right to order suspension, de-registration, fines or any other sentence it deems fit.

All these efforts have been made in the interest of both the litigants who put their trust in lawyers as well as safeguarding the integrity of the profession.

The LSZ therefore puts it on record that, the number of complaints received over a year does not necessarily translate to the total number of lawyers who end up de-registered and or under investigation by the Regulator.

Information on the total number of lawyers de-registered to date is available on the LSZ website and has also been shared on inquiry. The totals have not yet reached 100 so far over a period of over 40 years.

It is disturbing that some “professional” writers do not even avail themselves of the information that is publicly and freely available before putting pen to paper.

The legal profession remains an effectively regulated profession. The public is assured that they can entrust their legal affairs to the hands of their legal practitioner without fear of prejudice.

This assurance is premised on the fact that the lawyer one chooses to deal with is registered and properly licensed by the Law Society.

The LSZ also readily shares information on the licensing status of any lawyer to those making inquiries and anyone wishing to do so can visit the website or call the LSZ contacts for information.

The Law Society of Zimbabwe thus remains committed to ensuring that the legal profession serves with integrity and advance justice and the rule of law in Zimbabwe as per its statutory mandate.

More: Pindula News

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