Malawi Law Society (MLS) says its hands are tied on disciplining private practice lawyer Lusungu Gondwe as ordered by the High Court of Malawi because the lawyer appealed the order in the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal.
In an interview yesterday, MLS president Burton Mhango said the Supreme Court is yet to hear the appeal Gondwe filed against the judgement of High Court Judge Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga.
He said the lawyer also queried the jurisdiction and the mandate of the disciplinary committee to discipline him.
Said Mhango: “He raised objections that the disciplinary committee should not proceed with disciplining him until the Supreme Court has determined his appeal. It may take time because of that.
“Basically what he was saying is that because the court already issued some penalties for him, so if the disciplinary committee again proceeds to issue some penalties, it will be like double jeopardy against him.”
He said the disciplinary committee is an independent body chaired by Solicitor General Gertrude Hiwa.
NyaKaunda Kamanga ordered MLS to discipline Gondwe for allegedly flouting several procedures in obtaining a midnight order that quashed the arrest warrant for business mogul Thom Mpinganjira in a case in which he is suspected to have attempted to bribe judges of the Constitutional Court.
The judge also recommended the disciplining of Zomba principal resident magistrate Ben Chitsakamire for disregarding procedure in overturning the earlier order.
Unlike MLS, the Judicial Service Commission swiftly complied with the court order and interdicted Chitsakamire.
Gondwe, who was also ordered to stop representing Mpinganjira in the case, was not available for comment yesterday while Hiwa said MLS was better-placed to comment.
In a written response yesterday, High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Agnes Patemba confirmed that Gondwe appealed against the decision of the High Court.
Garton Kamchedzera, a law professor at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi, is on record as having said if no one complies with the court order, it will be up to the interested party to push for its enforcement.
In recent years, MLS has come under the public spotlight with some sections of society accusing the body of allegedly shielding errant lawyers.