News and Information

Lawyer fighting for professional life
December 21, 2004

AN Oshakati-based lawyer, Slysken Makando, took a fight for his professional survival to the High Court in Windhoek on Friday with an urgent application to stop a move by the Law Society of Namibia to effectively suspend him from practising law.

Makando, a promising young lawyer who has been admitted as a legal practitioner in Namibia since 1994, is in danger of having his legal practice at Oshakati closed down by the Law Society of Namibia.

The apparent cause of the far-reaching action that the Law Society plans to take against him is a complaint that one of his clients had lodged against him.

That was after the client did not receive a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund claim pay-out that had been paid into a trust account of Slysken Makando Legal Practitioners at Oshakati.

It is understood that Makando is only one of a number of lawyers who are facing a move by the Law Society to have them scrapped from the roll of legal practitioners permitted to practise law in Namibia.

Makando's case became the first to have reached the courts on Friday.

On Thursday last week Makando received a letter informing him that the Law Society's Council had decided that it would not issue him with a Fidelity Fund Certificate when his current one expires on December 31.

The certificate enables a legal practitioner to receive money from the public; without having such a certificate, a legal practitioner would in effect be barred from continuing to practise as a lawyer, since he would be breaking the law if he continues to practise.

Having received this letter, Makando and lawyers Gerson Hinda and Dirk Conradie, who are acting on his behalf, brought an urgent application before Acting Judge Simpson Mtambanengwe in the High Court in Windhoek on Friday to ask that the Law Society be ordered to issue a Fidelity Fund Certificate to Makando for 2005.

They said the decision not to issue the certificate to him should be cancelled.

At the High Court, acrimonious accusations were exchanged between the lawyers acting for Makando and Harald Geier, representing the Law Society, during an adjournment intended to give the two opposing legal teams an opportunity to see if they could agree on another date for the hearing of Makando's urgent application.

After a heated exchange, they did reach an agreement of sorts, though.

The matter will now return to court today.

In the meantime, the Law Society was given a chance to file documents setting out its version of events relating to the action it intends to take against Makando.

Makando himself informed the court in an affidavit that a client of his, medical doctor Samson Repones Awuma Mijoro, had filed a complaint against him with the Ministry of Justice's Disciplinary Committee when proceeds from a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund claim that Makando had worked with were not paid out to him.

This complaint has since been withdrawn.

In an affidavit by Mijoro himself - it is dated September 7 - he informed the Disciplinary Committee that he did not want to pursue the complaint against Makando, since they had "amicably resolved the matter".

Mijoro had complained that the MVA Fund apparently paid some N$107 000 to Mijoro through a trust account of Makando's law firm in December 2003.

Mijoro claimed that Makando did not inform him that the money had been paid out, and that he later made several promises to Mijoro to pay him the money, but that nothing then came of these undertakings until Mijoro had threatened Makando with urgent legal action.

According to Makando, his firm's accountant, Piet Strauss, has advised him that "in his prudent exercise of the accounting of this specific file, there are no shortfalls and therefore to the best of his knowledge nothing from this file offends (the Law Society's) rules governing trust accounts".

Makando claimed that even one single fact alone related to the Law Society's decision not to issue him with a Fidelity Fund Certificate would mean that the Law Society Council's decision was invalid.

That was the fact that, according to him, the Council did not invite him to give his version of the matter before they took their decision to deny him a certificate with effect from January 1 2005 - the effect being that such a decision would be unconstitutional, because it was taken without having given him a fair hearing first.


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