Malawi Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda has issued a stern warning on any attempts of ‘judge shopping’, saying it compromises the integrity of the Judiciary and there is need to devise ways of curbing it.
Last week in parliament, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson on legal affairs and Lilongwe South West MP, Peter Chakwantha, advised the newly appointed chief justice to uproot the ‘judge shopping’ which he said is bedevilling the justice delivery.
‘Judge shopping’ is a tendency among lawyers in collaboration with court clerks who, among other things, “scout” for their preferred judges whom they believe would dispense justice in their favour.
Speaking to journalists in Mzuzu after meeting the Malawi Law Sosiety (MLS) President John Suzi Banda and other Mzuzu based lawyers on Tuesday, the Chief Justice said aid ‘judge shopping’ is a serious concern.
“We must find ways of dealing with that. We must certainly, as an institution, curb any attempt to judge shopping and the way it is manifested, we must be decisive about it,” he said.
Bur MLS president said his office was yet to come across genuine complaints of ‘judge shopping’.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice disclosed that Mzuzu High Court will soon be receiving visiting judges from Lilongwe and other court regions to support the only Resident Judge Dingiswayo Madise.
He explained that the immediate suggestion during the meeting with the lawyers was that, twice in a month, judges from other court districts especially Lilongwe should be going to Mzuzu to assist the resident judge.
“We should also be thinking about getting a permanent judge or two for Mzuzu. Perhaps, while we are waiting for appointments to be made, we can also think as an institution whether a judge or two can be transferred to Mzuzu. That will, for the time being, help,” Nyirenda said.
He said the number of judges to be sent to the Mzuzu will depend on the number of judges available on the ground.
“We must be aware that the High Court, as I speak, has only 22 judges; so to spare enough numbers of judges for all the court regions is quite a challenge for the Judiciary until a few more judges are recruited,” Nyirenda said.
He said the recruitment of judges remains a matter for consultations between the Judicial Service Commission, the office of the Chief Justice and the President.—Additional reporting by McCarthy Mwalwimba, ManaFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :