Malawi Law Society (MLS) president Patrick Mpaka has urged lawyers to conclude their cases instead of just abandoning them.
The call comes against the backdrop of a seemingly overwhelmed Malawi Judiciary, especially the High Court, where some appear on the cause list despite being abandoned many years ago.
Many of these cases are those in which politicians dragged to court people for defamation, claiming damages and yet no further instructions are issued to lawyers to pursue them.
Mpaka said High Court (Civil Procedures Rules) of 2017, under Order 53, allows lawyers to apply to the court to stop representing a client.
Under the new High Court rules, he said specific power is also given to the court to strike off dormant cases using Order 12 rule 57.
He said: “If no step is taken for six months, the court has powers to ask a lawyer to come to court to explain why there is no movement on their case.
“And if the matter clocks 12 months and there is no movement, the court on its own and without further notice can strike off a matter.”
Mpaka said although many cases are still on the cause list, they are as good as dead.
A good example of a case that used to appear on the cause list, but instructions were later issued to drop it was that of former president Peter Mutharika against Allan Ntata and Nyasatimes.
Mutharika, through his lawyer James Masumbu, dragged Ntata and Nyasatimes to court for defamation.
In an interview, Masumbu said he was later on instructed to drop the case.
In a lawsuit filed at the High Court in Blantyre, Mutharika also wanted the court to restrain Ntata and Nyasatimes from further publishing the issue of K92 billion Cashgate linked to the Bingu administration.
According to court records Nation on Sunday had seen, Ntata published an article on Nyasatimes, alleging the former president was implicated in the K92 billion Cashgate.
Ntata further claimed in the article that Mutharika was delaying to release a forensic report of the K92 billion Cashgate under his late brother’s eight-year rule because he was involved, according to the court records.
In the lawsuit, Mutharika said in their natural and ordinary meaning of the published words, they meant he [the President] was engaged in fraud and corruption.
The President claimed: “[The words also mean I am] engaged in dubious transactions…in the looting of public purse from Capital Hill known as Cashgate. In consequence, [my reputation] has been seriously injured.”