THE independent bar of legal practitioners at the Advocate Chambers has refused to take back two former interns expelled from the chambers for allegedly practising as principals without having completed the mandatory 36 months as legal practitioners.
REPORT BY CHARLES LAITON
The old system where interns were allowed at the chambers as “pupils under masters” has since been abolished by the advocates, the court heard.
Addressing the Supreme Court bench yesterday, Advocate Firoz Girach said Sylvester Hashiti and Taona Sibanda would not be admitted at the chambers since they lacked requisite qualifications to be called advocates according to Section 4 of the Legal Practitioners’ Regulations.
“We cannot have the appellants (Hashiti and Sibanda) as members of the association because they lack requisite experience. They accused members of our association of acting in bad faith, stealing their clients and being incompetent,” Girach said.
Girach said the fallout between the association and the two lawyers came about sometime last year, when the advocates’ association realised that the pair was practising on their own account and charging clients fees contrary to the terms of their internship.
“The impasse was reached after the applicants refused to co-operate with the association. They wrote a memo to the Law Society of Zimbabwe accusing the association of acting in bad faith,” Girach said.
“They were invited to withdraw their memo, but refused and it became very difficult to work with them. In fact, they washed dirty linen in public.”
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After their expulsion, Hashiti and Sibanda challenged the move at the High Court, but their application was dismissed.
Hashiti admitted they practised on their own accounts, but maintained their actions were in accordance with the law since their work was subject to supervision. Hashiti later withdrew his application of seeking to force the association to take them back after the independent bar of legal practitioners maintained it would not associate with them because their “marriage” had irretrievably broken down.
This was after Supreme Court judges Justices Vernanda Ziyambi, Paddington Garwe and Bharat Patel had highlighted to Hashiti that the Advocate Chambers was an association which had its rights as to who and how to associate with.
“This is a voluntary association and one is not forced to be in it. If I have a club and you join it and if at some stage you realise you are not pleased, you leave,” Justice Ziyambi said.
Other respondents in the matter were represented by Advocates Patty Kachidza and David Ochieng, while the Law Society of Zimbabwe was represented by Mordecai Mahlangu.
Judgment in the matter was reserved.