Only 30% lawyers eligible to operate
MBABANE – Only 30 per cent of admitted attorneys in the country are eligible to operate and charge fees to clients according to the Law Society of Swaziland.
As promised, the Law Society of Swaziland has issued a list of attorneys who have complied with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act and are; therefore, its members.
It has warned members of the public to engage and pay money to the rest at their own risk. The Law Society, as published in the Swazi News, has branded attorneys who are practising yet they had not paid subscriptions and the Fidelity Fund as ‘sidlani’ (crooked) attorneys.
In a statement, it said attorneys who held themselves as attorneys yet they were not members, by virtue of being up to date with subscriptions and the Fidelity Fund, were not entitled to charge fees.
The yearly subscription for each attorney is E3 000 and the Fidelity Fund is E600. The Fidelity Fund, according to the Law Society Treasurer, Mbuso Simelane, is insurance used to guard against cases where an attorney is found to have misappropriated clients’ funds.
He also said it was a licence to charge a fee and to operate a law office as well as to be entitled to be a practising attorney.
"In terms of the Legal Practitioners Act of 1964, admitted attorneys and advocates are deemed legally obliged to remain up to date in their annual subscription payment to become members and in practice they have to pay their Fidelity Fund.
"It is a criminal offence, in terms of the act to hold yourself out as an attorney when you are not a member of the Law Society and you are not entitled to charge a fee," reads the Law Society’s statement.
The statement also stated that the list published was for lawyers, advocates and those who were employed by private institutions and had fully paid up.
It also said the list included attorneys who had made suitable arrangements to comply with the act.
The society had said it was ‘tired’ of having members who had paid up, being accused together with the ‘sidlani’ attorneys for stealing money from members of the public.
Law Society a political party - JSC
MBABANE – The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) member, Sibusiso Shongwe has labelled the law Society as a political party.
Shongwe is among the lawyers who have not been listed as entitled to practice because they were not up to date with subscriptions and the Fidelity Fund. However, Shongwe said he was up to date with the Fidelity Fund which stands at E600 per year.
He said he would not pay subscriptions to the law society and assist it in pushing its political agenda.
"I am up to date with the Fidelity Fund because I am legally bound to pay it. I won’t pay subscriptions because they are a political party. I will not assist a society that seeks for regime change. I do not agree with them. It is unfortunate that the law allows for one law society, otherwise we would form our own society that promotes lawyers’ interests," Shongwe said.
He said the Law Society could go ahead and deregister him, because they were at liberty to do so. "They must go ahead; we will defend ourselves. We will meet in court," Shongwe said. Among the JSC members, Shongwe is the only one not in the list. Musa Dlamini and Pholile Dlamini have been included.
Shongwe was responding to the Law Society’s statement that it would move an application to deregister all attorneys who had not paid up. Efforts to get hold of the Law Society proved futile last night. The Treasurer Mbuso Simelane’s phone was switched off last night. He was called three times between 6pm and 9:20pm.
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