The Herald (Harare)

21 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Careers of 255 Lawyers Hang on a Thread - LSZ

The careers of 255 lawyers hang on a thread as they face malpractice allegations, the Law Society of Zimbabwe has said. Three lawyers were recently de-listed from the legal practitioners' roll, while four law firms were closed for malpractice and abuse of trust funds.

In an interview, LSZ president Mr Lloyd Mhishi said, "We have prioritised clearing disciplinary cases at the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal. We received 310 new complaints this year. Of these, 65 cases have been completed.

"Prevalent cases were those of failure to account for trust funds and a client has the right to be given trust funds upon request.

"There is also a high number of complaints on legal practitioners who accept instructions for small collections. They successfully do so and end up billing much more than what they would have collected."

He said unfair labour practices at law firms and failure to honour credit facilities were some of the complaints brought to the attention of the LSZ.

"The failure to pay salaries and wages to staff members is an act of unprofessional conduct. Various forms of credit were advanced to practitioners because they were considered to be in a noble profession but an unusually high number have defaulted.

"We have received complaints from banks, furniture stores, money lenders and also non-payment of rentals. We urge legal practitioners to live within their means," said Mr Mhishi.

He also said lawyers should not draw out court cases as a way of maximising revenue from clients.

LSZ executive secretary Mr Edward Mapara said lawyers must charge tariffs that approved by the mother body.

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