While prominent legal scholars and Malawi Law Society (MLS) have given varying positions on the K7 billion legal bill for two legal teams that represented President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice-President Saulos Chilima in the May 21 2019 presidential election nullification petition to be footed by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) as assessed by Agnes Patemba, registrar of the High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, on Monday this week, State House spokesperson Sean Kampondeni has raised interesting questions below.
- Does anyone really believe that if the two Petitioners had lost the elections case at the Constitutional Court, the bill their lawyers would have presented to them for legal services for eight months would have been 7 billion kwacha?
- If not, doesn’t the State’s loss of the case with costs mean that the tax payer should only pay either whatever bills the lawyers would have charged their clients had they lost or whatever bills they agreed to when they negotiated the terms of representation with their clients?
- Even in the unlikely event that the 7 billion kwacha bill is more reasonable than extortionate, is there a reason tax payers are not being told how much of it will be shouldered by each of the two respondents, just as taxpayers have been told how much of it will be awarded to each of the two petitioners?
- And if the triumphant lawyers have chosen to burden the taxpayer with such a bill as their just recompense, should the lawyers still be regarded in the court of public opinion as sacrificial contributors to the cause of justice in the court case or should their public esteem now be reduced to something more mercenary?
- Doesn’t this bill justify and warrant a repeal of the general approach of assessing legal costs only after a trial instead of continuously throughout the trial so that the court already knows the costs on each side when it is delivering a judgment on costs?