FORMER interns at the Advocates’ Chambers have dragged the independent bar of legal practitioners to the Supreme Court to compel it to reverse new regulations introduced midway through their internship barring them from representing clients in higher courts without their supervisors.
The two, Sylvester Hashiti and Taona Sibanda, were admitted to the Chambers as interns last year but saw red over the introduction of new regulations in August barring them from accepting briefs to represent clients in their own names or even appear in any court other than the magistrates’ court in the absence of their supervisors.
They took exception to what they considered to be retrospective legislation as the rules were introduced when they were already into their internship.
They argued that the spirit of the Legal practitioners Act is “such that no rules or regulations or amendment of such rules shall affect the right to practise of registered legal practitioner who was entitled to do so before the date of commencement of the rules or regulations”.
“To suggest otherwise and to give an ultimatum coupled with threats of dismissal from the chamber, would not only be tainting these proposed regulations with gross illegalities but would also be suggestive of the sheer ineptitude and mala fides of the frameworks’ draftsman or draftswoman,” the duo said in caustic language that prompted the Advocates’ Chambers to terminate their internship.
Repeated attempts to settle the matter out of court failed prompting the two to take their case to the High Court where Justice November Mtshiya ruled in favour of the Chambers. Mtshiya ruled that, among other things, the Advocates’ Chambers is a private and independent club with its own regulations which should be followed by those who join it.
The two have approached the Supreme Court arguing that their right of audience in the High Court and Supreme Court is anchored steadfast and secure in the Act.
“The absurdity of your provision is that while our contemporaries at the side bar are appearing in the superior courts by themselves, thus gaining extensive knowledge, confidence and experience … we will be relegated to be your messengers….and upon completion of our pupillage we then get briefs from our contemporaries to appear in superior courts.
This is patently preposterous,” they argued in their application.
Both parties filed their heads of argument but a date for the hearing has not yet been announced.