Tough times await legal practitioners as the Judiciary has warned of austere scrutiny of their applications for stay orders before they could be admitted to avoid unwarranted delays of the cases.
The Industrial Relations Court (IRC) says it will no longer consider “unnecessary applications” because they are leading to the court failing to handle the backlog of cases currently haunting the judicial system.
According to a letter addressed to all legal houses, through Malawi Law Society (MLS), IRC assistant registrar Mangawa Makhalira describes “unnecessary applications” where some lawyers were not filling statements of defence (IRC Form 2) in time but only doing so once their clients are served with default judgments.
The assistant registrar said, in the letter, once default judgment was issued, concerned lawyers would give various but untenable reasons for their applications for stay of judgments or execution of court orders.
“The practice is not helping the court to ensure that labour issues are concluded within the shortest time possible.
“Further, the practice is leading members of the public especially employees who have either been dismissed or want to be paid their terminal benefits to accuse the court of favouring employers who are mostly companies who have the capacity to engage lawyers,” reads the letter.
The assistant registrar observed employees who institute proceedings also need the protection of the law and both could best be served if laid down time limits for court processes are respected.
“I, therefore, would like to inform members of the legal fraternity that my office will from now onwards only entertain such applications where a very good reason has been provided, i.e. default judgment is irregular and not otherwise,” warns Makhalira in the letter.
There are over 6 700 people seeking justice through IRC as the court continues struggling to clear the backlog that dates back to 1999, according to IRC chairperson Chimwemwe Kamowa.
But reacting to the development, MLS president Burton Mhango said the society was yet to engage the office of the assistant registrar before taking action on the letter as such he could not “speculate on what prompted the communication”.
Mhango said it was imperative to point out that litigation before