12 Jul 2012

Swazi lawyers oppose parliamentary probe into self-regulation

The body representing lawyers in Swaziland is seeking a court order to block the country's parliament from launching a probe into the affairs of its members and a study of self-regulation in the legal profession.

Swaziland: row over legal profession regulation

Swaziland: row over legal profession regulation meunierd/Shutterstock.com

The move has invoked the wrath of a leading member of the Swazi royal family and some politicians.
According to The Swazi Observer, the proposed probe is designed to investigate the effectiveness of the statutory scheme enabling the legal profession to self-regulate.


Prince Guduza Dlamini -- speaker of the Swazi House of Assembly and brother of the country’s king -- and MP Nonhlanhla Dlamini have attacked the Law Society of Swaziland’s court action. Mr Dlamini, chairman of the parliamentary select committee overseeing mooted probe, has lashed out at alleged corruption in the legal profession, pointing to public complaints about dishonest attorneys as evidence that existing regulation is not working.
The MP maintains that some Law Society members have disregarded their statutory obligation to contribute financially to the profession’s fidelity fund, resulting in a shortfall of cash to compensate cheated members of the public.
The Law Society has opposed the probe on the grounds that the select committee is unconstitutional, and that appointments were made illegally. The society’s president,Titus Mlangeni, said ‘we are not hiding anything’, maintain his organisation was merely contesting the right of a parliamentary probe to investigate a self-regulating profession.

Constitutional debate

Prince Guduza objected to the society’s argument, on the grounds that the self-regulation of the legal profession is a parliamentary matter, having been instituted by the Legal Practitioners Act.
The prince argued that ‘parliamentary committees are legally competent to inquire into the subject’, and that the court is not constitutionally allowed to intervene in such parliamentary matters while they are being debated in the House of Assembly.
The matter is to be argued early next week before judges Mbutfo Mamba, Nkululeko Hlophe and Mumcy Dlamini. The Law Society will be represented by Advocate Lucas Maziya, and parliament by Bheki Tsabedze.


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