Malawi Law Society (MLS) has expressed misgivings over the government’s decision to hire lawyers from the United Kingdom to represent Malawi in the lake border dispute with Tanzania.
MLS President John- Gift Mwakhwawa said the society is worried with the government’s tendency of hiring foreign lawyers when the country has, according to Mwakhwawa, experienced lawyers who are well versed in International law.
“We are very concerned with government’s continued trend to hire foreign lawyers in disputes here at home when we have more capable lawyers practicing within the jurisdiction. This trend by government is an insult to the legal profession and undermines our profession.
“In the current boarder dispute between us and Tanzania, there are lawyers in Malawi who have studied international law, foreign relations, and all relevant laws to the dispute who have all the competence that is required to ably represent their mother land. More often than not you will find that the so called foreign lawyers rely on local expertise from Malawian lawyers to build their cases,” Mwakhwawa said.
He said Malawi is not showing any growth as a nation and is still being over dependent on donors not only for food aid and other aid, but also expertise which it already has but do not wish to utilise.
Makhwawa further said the move is bad economically as foreign lawyers are expensive than local ones and that it would be one way of “wasting” foreign exchange which is already in short supply in the country.
“Forex issues come into play again. It obviously is much cheaper to use Malawian lawyers than it is to hire British lawyers who have themselves studied the same law as our Malawian lawyers.
“Instead of giving a chance to qualified Malawian lawyers government continues to prefer to pay huge sums of money to foreign lawyers at the expense of the tax payer,” he said.
He also said the society will lobby with Parliament to stop the trend of hiring foreign lawyers and instead use lawyers in private practice if the government does not have good lawyers in the Ministry of Justice.
“Our appeal is to Parliament to exercise its oversight role and restrain the executive arm of government from this wasteful trend of hiring foreign lawyers in matters that can ably be handled by Malawian lawyers. If the Ministry of Justice does not have qualified lawyers, it does not mean that there are no qualified lawyers in private practice,” he said.
In May, a British lawyer Anthony Berry penned the office of the Director of Public Prosecution, demanding Â£158,222.22 (about K79 million) as legal fees and other cost for a treason case between the State versus Cassim Chilumpha and Yusuf Matumula.
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