Malawi lawyers to increase charging fees as judges want salary hike

The Malawi Law Society (MLS) says it will revise fees lawyers charge claiming that they have also been affected by the devaluation of the Kwacha while judges have pushed for “respectable salary” and a better retirement package.

The demand for judges pay hike comes close on the heels of government committing to increase salaries for civil servants following a 10-day strike, with 61 percent of the lowest paid and five percent for higher paid.

Attorney General Anthony Kamanga and Secretary to the Treasury Radson Mwadiwa confirmed in the press that there has been a demand to look into the present wages of justice.

The judiciary officials said the salaries of judges have not been increased realistically keeping in view the arduous nature of their work, status and responsibility and compensation for sacrificing their lucrative legal profession, besides ignoring their family responsibilities.

Malawi judges need adequate pay
Malawi judges need adequate pay
Malawi lawyers to increase legal fees
Malawi lawyers to increase legal fees

According to The Nation report on Friday, among other demands, the judges want the recent civil servants salary increment extended to them.

They also want government to consider adjusting upwards their fuel and subsistence allowances and an improved retirement package for them.

Currently, the Chief Justice receives slightly over K1 million (over $2 777) per month after it was reviewed in 2009 from K1 million. Judges of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal get K782 000 (about $2 172) from K582 000 (about $1 616) in 2009.

“I just know that the Judiciary presented their proposals to the Public Appointments Committee and so far, I know that Parliament is conferring with Treasury,” the paper quoted Attorney General Kamanga saying.

Mwadiwa said the matter has been referred to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), saying “my understanding is that the discussion is on other perks other than salaries…”

Conditions of Service for judges stipulate that their salaries and perks be reviewed every three years.

Meanwhile, MLS newly elected president Mandala Mambulasa has indicated that  there need to revise the legislation that guide lawyers regarding to legal fees, saying legal service providers have not been spared from the effects of devaluation and inflation.

“This is one of the issues I will be pursuing to see that legal fees revised because lawyers were not spared from the effects of devaluation. It is high time we revised the rules and legislation that lawyers follow to charge a client after providing legal services,” said Mambulasa.

Malawi legislators are also pushing government to implement fuel allowances of 500 litres a month as agreed in 2008. They want the amount to paid in arrears dating back to 2009 and could see one parliamentarian carting home an estimated K10 million (about $27 777) backdated payment by some estimates.

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