Lawyer Shepher Mumba has obtained an injunction from the High Court in Lilongwe against a decision by Malawi Law Society (MLS) to suspend him for six months.
Mumba’s lawyer Chimwemwe Kalua, in an interview yesterday, confirmed his client’s decision to challenge the suspension in court.
The court, on Friday, also granted the lawyer leave to apply for judicial review in which he is expected to be heard as he challenges his own professional body after a disciplinary committee found him guilty of ethical misconduct.
MLS issued a press statement on Friday stating that two of its members, Mumba and Violet Jumbe, had been suspended for six months each.
The suspensions followed complaints from two clients against law firms the two lawyers work for. Llwelyn Kalua lodged the complaint against Mumba’s Golden & Law while Chris Walker complained against Jumbe’s Maganga & Company.
But Mumba, in disagreement with the decision to suspend him, rushed to the High Court to stop the Law Society’s decision where he also obtained the leave for the judicial review.
In an interview yesterday, MLS secretary Chrispin Ngunde said the suspensions stopped the two from practicing law in Malawi during the said period but at the expiry of the suspensions, they would be allowed back into practice.
According to court documents we have seen on the matter, the MLS disciplinary committee ordered Mumba on July 16 2021 to refund his client, Llewlyn Kalua, within 14 days, the sum of K1.5 million, being party and party costs received in connection with a case.
“Having been admonished in another matter by the committee, you are hereby suspended for a period of six months by the disciplinary committee of the society according to Section 96(d) of the Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Act of 2018,” it reads.
In the other matter, Mumba was asked to refund K618 480.69, also within 14 days from July 16 2021, to another client, Jolly Ngulube.
But according to the court documents, Mumba applied for an order, which was granted certiorari, quashing the decision of the Law Society contained in the findings of July 16 2021 ordering him to refund the sum of K1.5 million and suspending him. Same application was applied and granted in the case of Ngulube.
He argued the penalty of suspension was oppressive, excessive, harsh, not proportional and unreasonable. He argued MLS had no jurisdiction to impose the penalty of suspension under Section 96(d) of the Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Act.
Reads in part Mumba’s injunction statements by Mumba’s lawyer: “The decision in the case involving Mr. Jolly Ngulube refers to the Malawi Law Society Code of Ethics which was not there in 2008 when the [Mumba] was handling the matter of five clients who included the complainant. The Claimant cannot be penalised based on the breach of Code that was not in existence when the alleged breach took place.
“In the case involving Jolly Ngulube, [Mumba] received instructions to represent five clients. [Mumba] claimed the compensation and paid all the five clients in 2008.
“There is evidence of the bank statement and the cheques mirrored thereon showing clearing that the complainant was paid K27 500.00. The cheque was in his name and it was cashed. It is unreasonable to order that [Mumba] should pay the sum of K618 480.69 which includes the sum of MK27 500.00 again plus interest.”
MLS has since said they will challenge the injunction.