The High Court in Blantyre has overturned an earlier ban on thin plastics after some 14 companies successfully challenged the dismissal of a judicial review on the ban.
The Malawi Parliament Conservation Caucus (MPCC) has since said it will engage the expertise of a United Kingdom (UK)-based lawyer, Shamimi Jayanathan, to help government beef up its legal team to appeal the High Court ruling.
The court battle has been ongoing since 2016 when Aero Plastics Industries Limited, Rainbow Plastics and 12 other companies obtained an injunction against the implementation of the ban, arguing it infringed on their business rights.
The companies sought a judicial review which the High Court dismissed on the grounds that government effected the ban but they had indicated an intention to appeal.
In his October 4 ruling, Justice Healey Potani said he weighed the companies’ right to seek relief pending appeal and thought the respondent through State Counsel dwelled too much on the merits of the previous ruling than on defending why the stay of execution should not be granted.
MPCC chairperson Werani Chilenga described the situation as pathetic, saying the issue needs to be treated with seriousness to make Malawi better for all.
“It is sad that government has lost the case. As a committee, we are ready to help the team. We will involve a UK lawyer and she is ready to be with the government side to defend this. I understand government didn’t present a strong case, that’s why they lost, the judge based his ruling on economic and investment view, forgetting the environmental impact. We will advocate for the appeal,” he said.
In June 2015, Government, through the Department of Environmental Affairs, effected a ban on thin plastics of less than 60 microns, arguing such plastics pose a threat to the environment due to their delayed rate of decomposition. n