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'Bogus lawyers on the prowl in Zimbabwe'

by Staff reporter
03 Jan 2024 at 05:27hrs | Views
The Law Society of Zimbabwe has expressed concern over the emergence of criminals masquerading as legal practitioners and, in the process short-changing the public.

In an interview, Law Society of Zimbabwe executive secretary Edward Mapara warned the public against engaging "legal practitioners in the streets".

"Bona fide legal practitioners do not tout. They don't work like commuter omnibus conductors or touts who approach would-be clients anywhere asking for work in an undignified manner. It is important that the public is aware of how a proper legal practitioner would present themselves," said Mapara.

He said all legal practitioners who want to practice law and access the courts, particularly in 2024, are renewing their practicing certificates.

"We currently have five designated universities whose legal qualifications are recognized by the Council for Legal Education and whose graduates are on presenting themselves to the High Court and having been found to be fit and proper, are registered. These are the University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University, the Great Zimbabwe University, Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University, and recently Africa University.

"For those with foreign qualifications, they are assessed by the CLE and where merited are asked to undertake conversion examinations before registration at the High Court," the LSZ boss said.

Mapara added that even with these qualifications and the High Court registration, a legal practitioner who wants to practice law in Zimbabwe must hold a valid practicing certificate issued by the Law Society of Zimbabwe in any given year.

"As the regulator, the Law Society issues annual practicing certificates to registered legal practitioners who wish to practice in a given year on meeting certain requirements. As we speak our members are in the process of renewing the practicing certificates for the year 2024," he said.

The Law Society Executive Secretary said anyone before engaging a legal practitioner can demand that they produce a valid practicing certificate for 2024 from January 1.

"From January 1, 2024, the public can demand the production of a valid practicing certificate covering that year. All bona fide legal practitioners who wish to practice will have one and we are working flat out to ensure that," he said.

Engaging properly registered legal practitioners who hold a valid practicing certificate will guarantee clients proper service and that they can be compensated under the Compensation Fund in the event of losses. The LSZ, Mapara said relies on stakeholders such as the Judicial Services Commission, the police, and the National Prosecuting Authority to make sure those who appear before our courts as legal practitioners are bona fide lawyers.

Source - newsday
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