The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has confirmed that about 177 lawyers in Malawi have no practising licences and are operating illegally.
MLS executive director Paula Caetano said there are “about 350” lawyers, including those working in government, but few have renewed their licences.
She said: “As at March 18, 2013, 173 lawyers have renewed their practising licences. Note, however, that lawyers in government and public service are not included in this number, but practice ex-officio.”
This comes in the wake of revelations that former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Fahad Assani, hired to prosecute recently arrested treason suspects, cannot practise because his licence is not renewed.
“If a lawyer does not renew their licence, they cannot practise. A list of all licensed lawyers is gazetted so that it is on record who can and cannot practise,” said Caetano.
The list is also supposed to be circulated to judges and magistrates so that they do not grant right of audience to unlicensed lawyers.
In a separate interview, acting registrar of the High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, Mike Tembo said “we will be gazetting the names of licensed lawyers soon.”
MLS says it will follow up to ensure lawyers renew their licences.
All unlicensed lawyers are essentially not members of MLS such that the society has no control over them, thereby posing a danger to the public.
The society plans to publish names of all licensed lawyers in the country’s newspapers to protect the public from abuse.