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Pressure Mounts on MLS on Legal Aid Act

A group of people holding diplomas in law argues that the decision by the Malawi Law Society to contest a proposal by the Legal Aid Bureau for increased legal protection for the poor and vulnerable is intended to stand in the way of access to justice for the poor.

This has been said few days after the Malawi Law Society sought court intervention in the matter in which paralegals want the legal aid act to be amended so that they can be representing clients at subordinate and high courts.

Spokesperson of the group, Brian Mchenga, argues that the position of the Malawi Law Society could easily be seen as a ploy to simply hedge lawyers against increased competition.

The community maintains that a Diploma in law holder from a recognized institution can represent clients In subordinate courts and according to Mchenga, the decision by the law society is an infringement of justice.

“Our demands are realistic because the law initially allowed Diploma Law holders to practice. All we are seeking is to revert the law so that we must put into practice skills gained at the law school,” reads part of the statement.

MLS has been opposing the amendment of the Legal Aid Act, despite the Legal Aid Bureau, justifying the move saying there is a backlog of over 23,000 cases, but the bureau only has 25 lawyers and 36 paralegals.

The society’s president Patrick Mpaka refused to comment on the matter as it is in court.

But legal expert Professor Edge Kanyongolo has cautioned saying allowing diploma holders to represent people in court could only be risky for the clients.

Judge Mike Tembo from the High Court in Blantyre is expected to review the matter on October 7, 2021.

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