The Law Society of Botswana has issued a warning against the practice of appointing fresh graduates to the magistracy saying it is detrimental to the quality of Administration of Justice and the careers of the appointees.
LSB Chairman, Tshekiso Tshekiso expressed the concern at the official opening of the Legal Year. “We think the appointment of Magistrates from graduates who are coming out of University does not always turn out best as most are young and without sufficient experience to be given such immense responsibility and power. The exuberance of youth may also sometimes unfortunately lead wayward, rushed, and unsympathetic conduct against litigants and legal professionals,” he said.
The LSB further said that the appointment of judges lacks transparency and likely to lead to appointments that compromise the quality justice dispensed and lower the standards of the courts. “There are whispers in some quarters that this fear may have already befallen us. We are convinced that everything must be done to ensure that not even localization, which the Society remains an ardent proponent of, should be at the expense of quality and meritocracy”.
Tshekiso expressed disappointment at the government’s rejection of proposals contained in the Amendment of the Legal Practitioners Act which were aimed at improving the society’s financial position without undue dependence on government subvention.
He said that the recent inclusion of Anti Money Laundering initiatives to the LSB mandate has put a burden on the society to execute its duties, especially that it depends on membership subscriptions for it operations.
So far there are about 500 law firms registered under LSB and majority of them are complying with requirements for holding a practicing certificate.
“This extensive vetting process includes, amongst others, examination of Annual Audits Reports of trust accounts of all law firms, about 500 of them. And initiating process where non-compliance is detected which may include disciplinary process, High Court applications and curatorship. The cost is debilitating”.
He said the Amendment of Legal Practitioners Act could assist with reducing the backlog of the cases.