19 July 2018

Botswana: Strong Legal System Ideal

Gaborone — President Mokgweetsi Masisi has encouraged the Law Society of Botswana (LSB) to engage extensively with its parent bodies to address challenges that may impede the operations of the legal system.

The President told LSB council members who had paid a courtesy call on him July 19, that the Law Society was a important part of the judicial and governance systems which must be continuously strengthened to ensure effective service delivery.

He said it was vital for any democratic state to uphold the rule of law and have legal practitioners who lived up to the standards of the profession through offering judicial service and consequently assisting the country in governance.

"It is even more important to have lawyers as avid conscientious practitioners of the law to help us govern."

President Masisi highlighted that any challenges that may impede apt Juris dispense must be dealt with to ensure effective service delivery and noted that the parent authority figures such as Ministry of Defense Justice and Security, Chief Justice and the Attorney General should engage extensively with the Law Society and iron out any challenging issues.

LSB Council chairperson Mr Kgalalelo Monthe called for amendment of the 1996 Legal Practitioners Act.

"We believe that the Act has been overtaken by events. We have been operating under the 1996 statute and we want the 1996 statute amended. We have been talking to the parent ministry. Issues that have not been contemplated by the act have come to the fore. We have been struggling over the years," he said.

Mr Monthe noted that the Law Society had in the past hired a consultant to draft the amendment bill which was given to the Attorney General and the Ministry of Defense Justice and Security. Therefore, he pleaded with the President to give the amendment bill a heads up.

He added that the legal profession was an integral part of the rule of law and if lawyers practiced freely and as part of discipline and upholding the profession there was also the fact that some of the issues that required to be ironed out could not be attended to without an amendment.

He noted all lawyers were members of the Law Society; those in government, parastatals, private practice except that those in government were exempted from holding certificates of practice and or payment.

Further, Mr Monthe noted that for democracy to flourish there was need for a very efficient functioning judiciary which he said could be strengthened by the Law Society availing senior members of the bar to assist in doing applications and short legal matters.

"We continue to engage with the Attorney General and the Chief Justice on this matter," he said.

On Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) , Mr Monthe noted that investors needed a judicial system that dealt with cases adequately in a timely manner which necessitated the need to fortify the system,

"When we talk of FDI, investors look at how long it takes to resolve a commercial dispute. That would guide them on whether or not to risk their capital in Botswana," he said.

He said the Administration of Justice was inundated with the challenge of lack of production of records at the High Court where he said an appeal could take up to two years for the reason that there had to be transcription of records.

"We wish to have it resourced to enable matters to be dealt with much quicker," he said.

In response, President Masisi buttressed the need for the Law Society to engage even more with its parent authorities.

"I have encouraged senior public servants to be much more open minded as they serve and not be quick to be judgmental or prejudicial. When something gets escalated they respond in a way that is not helpful to the problem. We must offer solutions. These issues are solvable. We have what it takes to solve these matters," he said.

The President also encouraged lawyers to uphold ethical conduct of their profession and ensure the public was given quality legal service, "keepers of the profession should whip each other into the line," he concluded.

Source : BOPA

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