10 July 2018

Malawi Law Commission Kickstarts Review of Supreme Court of Appeal Act

The Special Law Commission on the review of the Supreme Court of Appeal Act on Monday started preliminary consultative meetings on the review of the Act with a call for involved stakeholders to positively contribute on the same.

The review process aims at aligning the 1964 Act with the 1994 Constitution of Malawi. This comes against the background of the possibility of disparities, inconsistencies or gaps between the two since the Supreme Court of Appeal Act predates the Constitution.

On the day, the Law Commission engaged the Judiciary and the Malawi Law Society to solicit their inputs towards the review.

In an interview, Chairperson for the Special Law Commission, Edward Twea S.C said one of the issues to be addressed in the review is on the Supreme Court of Appeal being the last court.

"Malawians now have the right of appeal to the SADC court in Namibia or COMESA court in Lusaka and a human rights court in Addis Ababa; those were not provided for in our courts as the constitution says the final court is the Supreme Court of Appeal.

"But there are issues that it is not final as there are cases that can go to other courts within the region, that is why we are looking at the Act again," he explained.

He further said the review, which is expected to end between May and June next year (2019), will also look at providing timely and equal access to the courts to all Malawians despite the social status.

Twea added that the consultations will also be extended to the general public for their input on particular issues and further consultations will be done throughout the regions so as to hear from a wider population.

The findings will then be forwarded to the Ministry of Justice which will take them to the cabinet before being taken into Parliament.

On this, Twea said it was imperative for stakeholders to be participating in the meetings.

"There is need for people to be gracing these meetings because the participation today is not that good and at the end of the day, people will say they were not consulted when the issue is taken to Parliament," said Twea.

In his remarks, president of the Malawi Law Society, Alfred Majamanda, said the review process is an opportunity for law practitioners in the country to recommend what as lawyers would like to be in the Act.

"We are here to take out issues, observe that what we think should be within the law so that the practice is smooth for us because there are some things we lawyers would have wanted to be in the Act but might not be there.

"It was important for us to be here because we do not want somebody to make a law and then we later come in and start complaining," Majamanda said.

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