Malawi Law Society (MLS) President Burton Mhango has said lawyers need to embrace alternative disputes resolution mechanisms instead of always considering litigation.
The president said this in an interview after the lawyers’ body held a workshop on commercial arbitration attended by over 150 lawyers in Blantyre.
“In most legal disputes, the jurisprudence is that we should advocate for alternative legal disputes settlements which includes mediation, arbitration or reconciliation, so we are currently updating our members on that aspect,” he said.
Mhango also observed that Section 13 of the country’s Constitution (Principle of National Policy) also encourages people to resort to alternative dispute settlements first before lawsuits.
Section 13 (l) stipulates the State shall actively promote the welfare and development of people by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving peaceful settlement of disputes through adoption of “mechanisms by which differences are settled through negotiation, good offices, mediation, conciliation and arbitration”.
He said: “Even the courts are now encouraging matters to first go for arbitration, and lawyers are heavily involved in all those disputes.
“So, as Malawi Law Society, we feel it is important that the lawyers know the importance of arbitration and negotiation as alternative dispute settlements.”
Last week, the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the Attorney General (AG) and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to discuss, within 14 days, how to manage future anti-Jane Ansah nationwide demonstrations.
The two parties’ talks started on Friday in Lilongwe after the first two attempts to have the meeting proved futile. The talks are scheduled to continue tomorrow.
In another interview, commercial arbitration law expert Marshal Chilenga, who is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators of London, encouraged businesspersons to use arbitrators instead of rushing to court, saying that helps to build confidence in the adjudication of disputes.
“Arbitration is very important for Malawi. It gives confidence to businesspersons to do their business knowing it will be adjudicated upon by people who understand their business and know their businesses usages and customs,” he said.
Under the new Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Act, lawyers are expected to undergo regular trainings on some topical issues or new developments within the profession as part of their continuing legal education.