Law firm Rizt Attorneys, who represented Ernest Mtawali in a court defamation case against Football Association of Malawi (FAM), has disclosed that they will not demand legal fees from the Flames legend.
The move consequently lifts a potentially financial burden on the former Flames midfielder who had already endured three years of a fruitless court battle with his former employer.
In an interview, Lusungu Gondwe, who heads Rizt Attorneys, said they were only going to expect payment if they had won the case.
“If FAM was condemned to pay [damages for defamation] then he was going to pay us. But under the circumstances, if we choose to raise a fee, how will he pay us?” he wondered.
In the case dating back to 2017, Mtawali was seeking damages from FAM claiming its former first vice-president James Mwenda defamed him when announcing that the association will not extend his contract.
Although the High Court ruled in his favour, the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned that ruling, leaving Mtawali with no gains from it.
The court also ruled that each party should shoulder legal costs.
It said in the ruling: “This court has agonised over the question of cost, considering the history of this matter and the relationship between the two parties. This court orders that each party bears its own cost of the appeal.”
Gondwe stated that although they did not earn anything from the case, his firm was proud to have helped Mtawali pursue the course of justice.
“We had a good case and the High Court did agree with us, but the law is [an] unruly horse. It can go this or that way. So, it was in pursuant of justice that we took up this matter,” he said.
Mtawali did not respond to our questions sent through his WhatsApp after he did not pick up our calls.
The revered former Flames playmaker, coached the Flames between 2015 and 2016. The FAM technical committee recommended in a report that his contract should not be renewed on allegations that he lacked “planning and managerial skills and, to some extent, discipline”.
But FAM and Mwenda’s lawyer Patrick Mpaka was quoted by The Nation as having said: “ The latest outcome essentially finds that what FAM and Mr Mwenda have consistently been saying all along, there was nothing defamatory about stating facts as they are and that FAM and Mr Mwenda did not publish the words which Mr Mtawali was complaining of”.