Malawi Law Society (MLS) has resolved to settle out of court cases of three lawyers who sued it for defamation for publishing their names in newspapers on allegations of clients’ funds embezzlement.
The lawyers’ professional body has already been in talks with two of the three lawyers—Edwin Banda, Lucious Kwakwala and Lusungu Gondwe—for the out of court settlement.
The initiative was facilitated by the previous MLS executive committee under the presidency of Alfred Majamanda whose tenure expired on February 23 this year.
In an interview, Majamanda confirmed that the society had made “substantial progress in trying to amicably resolve” the court battles.
He revealed that his committee had approached Gondwe and Kwakwala to resolve the matter out of court.
While commending the willingness of the two members to resolve the cases for the sake of the society, Majamanda said he was hoping the current MLS committee would manage to secure an out of court settlement for the remaining case.
“For the remaining case, work is still in progress. Discussions are yet to be undertaken to find a way to resolve it,” he said.
In separate interviews, both Gondwe and Kwakwala confirmed engaging in discussions with the Law Society for an out of court settlement.
However, while Gondwe corroborated Majamanda’s assertion that his case was resolved out of court, Kwakwala said the matter was yet to be concluded.
Said Gondwe: “We talked about it and sorted outside court. I am not claiming any damages and I am happy with it. So, I am not doing anything, it’s now water under the bridge.”
But Kwakwala said a proposal was made by MLS leadership to have the matter settled out of court “but that has not been done yet”.
“If they are serious we will go forward [with out of court settlement] and I am ready to take that direction; meanwhile, I filed for a notice of hearing of the case and I am just waiting for the date,” said Kwakwala.
The three legal practitioners filed lawsuits at the High Court in Blantyre against MLS after being aggrieved by a publication of the society’s disciplinary committee’s findings and recommendations in May 2017.
Banda, Kwakwala and Gondwe were among eight lawyers named by the MLS disciplinary committee, which was then chaired by former Solicitor General and Secretary for Justice Janet Banda, over various alleged disciplinary excesses.
They protested their inclusion on the list, claiming they were gravely defamed, but the society denied the claims, arguing that it was acting within its mandate, backed by the laws of Malawi.
In the matters, two MLS former presidents—Mandala Mambulasa and Alick Msowoya—volunteered to represent the Law Society for free.
Mambulasa was challenging Kwakwala’s lawsuit while Msowoya was defending the society against Gondwe and Banda’s court cases.