*In this maiden edition of ‘one–on-one’ exclusive interview, Nyasa Times journalist Peter Makossah referred to in this Interview as (NT) talks to Mr. Boniface Chimpango, (BC) founder and managing partner of Crown and Law solicitors, a Malawian owned law firm based in Manchester, England.
NT: Who is Boniface Chimpango, the brain behind Crown and Law solicitors?
BC: “In a nutshell, I’m the managing Solicitor, I did my first law degree at the University of Malawi, Chancellor College and after graduation I was called to the Malawi bar and practiced law in Malawi with a private law firm…”
“Coughs… I left Malawi for further studies in the United Kingdom. Later, I graduated with a Master of Laws degree in corporate law from Nottingham Law School in 2005 and qualified as a member of the Law Society of England and Wales in 2006. I have since then practiced law as an English solicitor working for a number of Organisations including the Local Government…”
NT: Tell me about Crown & Law Solicitors?
BC: “Crown & Law Solicitors is a fully established law firm based in the city of Manchester and regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority which is a regulatory arm of the Law Society of England and Wales. The firm is a general practice offering a whole range of legal services including, but not limited to, UK Immigration and Human Rights law, Employment and Labour Relations law, Family law, Debt Recovery, Landlord and Tenant law, Corporate and Commercial law and Conveyancing.”
NT: Is Crown & Law Solicitors the first law firm in the UK run by a Malawian lawyer?
BC: In so far as I am aware, yes, and as such it was very much a leap of faith for me as I did not know how things would pan out. However, we feel that we will be able to inspire upcoming Malawian young lawyers studying in the UK to know that they can practice in UK as well as run their own law firms. We also want to provide a link between Malawi law firms and UK legal jurisdiction.
NT: “Can you please outline a range of your services?
“We help with the following; Immigration matters in such areas as; Points Based System (PBS) Tier 1 applications. We also help with matters pertaining to Highly Skilled Migrant, Investors, and Entrepreneurs. PBS Tier 2: Work permit applications, Intra-company transfers, Sportsperson & Minister of Religion. PBS Tier 4: Student visas applications & extensions as well as student dependant applications.”
NT: “Right? I’m listening…”
BC: “We also deal with Family Unions (spouse/partner, children, fiancé (e), grandparents and other dependent relatives. Extensions of stay & Indefinite Leave applications in any of the above categories. Visitors: Family, Academic, Sports, Entertainment, Business, Private Medical Treatment, Marriage, Prospective student & Transit.
NT: “What else do you do pertaining to Immigration?
BC: “We help people of all backgrounds with issues concerning EEA and Family Members Applications.
We also assist in British Citizenship and nationality applications and issues, Long Residence Application – 10 year continuous lawful residence in United Kingdom.”
NT: “is that all?”
BC: “No, there is more that we do on immigration. We help out clients with long Residence Applications – 14 year continuous ‘unlawful’ residence in the United Kingdom. We also deal with Immigration appeals and Human Rights applications and appeals. Again, we also offer help and services in Asylum applications and Appeals, detention advice and bail applications plus judicial Review Applications if need arises for us to do that,”
NT: What other areas of law do you offer your services apart from Immigration?”
BC: He sighs: “Employment Law.”
NT: And in what areas of employment do you help?
BC: “We can help in the following areas: employment contracts, Unfair Dismissal, wrongful dismissals, redundancies, disciplinary Hearings, sex, disability and race discrimination. Again, we help in bullying and Harassment at Work and many more others… We also help on family law on issues such as pre-marital agreements, divorce and separations.
NT: So, in short, you help marriages break?”
BC: “Laughs…No, we don’t, actually, we only help settle matters and advise accordingly in line with the law as regards to divorce or separation but first and foremost we give counsel on how best they can settle matters without going that unfortunate direction…”
NT: “I was wondering… Is there more?”
BC: “Oh! Yes, there’s more that we do. We help in matters on Child custody and protection, financial arrangements in the event of a divorce or separation. We also assist the clientele on issues about domestic violence and Welfare and Local Authority Housing…”
NT “What else do you deal with?”
BC: “We also support our clients on Commercial and company laws and many other legal matters such as
Company formation and compliance issues. We also draft general commercial contract and contracts Debt Recovery and debt negotiations plus Tax Disputes…”
BC: “We can also assist with legal advice on other matters like Road Traffic Offences, Education Law (including admissions, exclusions and expulsions and student loan/finance issues), Landlord and Tenant…”
NT: So, what makes you tick and stand out on the market especially in this time of economic downturn particularly for struggling Malawians and other nationals alike?”
BC: “Our fees are very competitive and we have devised several flexible payment methods. So money will not be of the essence…We are people centred in our service delivery.”
NT: The final word?”
BC: “Crown & Law Solicitors was granted a licence as a solicitors firm in April 2012. It’s still in its early days but the business has taken an upward trajectory since the practice opened its doors. We have quite a diverse client base. We strive to provide practical, clear and comprehensive legal advice and representation in a friendly environment and at a low cost. We also intend to work in partnership with local law firms in Malawi respecting any legal matters they may wish to pursue within the jurisdiction of England and Wales. We have already assisted some Malawian based legal houses in this regard…”
“We are also desirous to help Malawian law students studying law in United Kingdom by providing them with a platform for gaining practical experience of the English legal practice. In this respect, we are working on a volunteership scheme whereby law students and graduates would work with our firm to gain the most needed experience in law practice.”
NT: How can people contact you if they need your services?
NT: Thank you for time.
BC: The pleasure is mine. Thank you.