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Nyarota's lawyer fined for unprofessional conduct

by Staff reporter
14 Feb 2019 at 09:48hrs | Views
A former partner at Scanlen and Holderness, Doreen Vimbai Gapare, was last week fined $500 by the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) after she was convicted of unprofessional conduct in handling the case of journalist, Geoffrey Nyarota.

Nyarota, the founding editor-in-chief of The Daily News, reported Gapare to the LSZ in February 2017, accusing her of gross negligence in her handling of his unlawful dismissal by Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of The Daily News in May 2010.

The matter has been before the courts since then.  When the matter went to arbitration in August 2011, arbitrator Mr John Life Mawire found ANZ guilty of summarily and illegally dismissing Nyarota from employment.

He awarded him $90 921 as compensation and damages.  Gapare successfully applied for registration of the arbitral award at the High Court. Justice Esther Muremba granted the application in July 2015 as an order of that court for purposes of enforcing the award.  Nyarota was requested to pay Scanlen and Holderness $650 towards the execution of the award by the Deputy Sherriff.

He paid the money, but the execution was never enforced. Subsequent, inquiry revealed that the amount had been transferred to Gapare's account at the law firm on her instruction.

Meanwhile, ANZ had filed an appeal at the Labour Court against both judgment and quantification of the award. The court requested the parties to file heads of argument for the matter to proceed.  

By the time the matter was finally set down for hearing, 19 months later, Gapare had not filed anything and claimed that she had not made the submission because Nyarota was in arrears in terms of his legal fees. Nyarota argued that there was no record of any such demand having been made to him at the material time.

Gapare had given an undertaking in writing to the clerk of the Labour Court in November 2012 that she would submit the heads of argument by December 2, 2012.  When the matter was finally heard on July 10, 2015, the Labour Court granted a default judgment upholding ANZ's application.

Gapare then assured Nyarota that she would apply for a rescission of the judgment as it was without merit. She accused Gill Godlonton and Gerrans, a law firm, representing ANZ, of "snatching victory".  

Nyarota personally approached the court against Gapare's advice, only to find that it was his lawyer's failure to submit the heads of argument that had caused a judgment that was against him. He then reported Gapare to the LSZ.

Source - the herald

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