Bogus lawyers on the rise; Law Society of Zimbabwe urges public vigilance


HARARE – The Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has expressed concern over the increasing number of bogus lawyers in the country, stating that this trend is negatively affecting the delivery of justice. 

Law Society of Zimbabwe concerned with bogus lawyers on the rise

LSZ Vice-President Lison Ncube, speaking at an annual media engagement meeting recently, highlighted a decline in the observance of the rule of law.

Ncube emphasized the LSZ's commitment to eliminating individuals posing as lawyers, and urged the public to verify the status of legal practitioners before hiring them. 

He said this can be done by checking the LSZ website and demanding a valid practicing certificate from anyone claiming to be a legal practitioner.

"Our website will continue to carry lists of registered legal practitioners and those that have been suspended or deregistered," Ncube stated. He added that the public should insist on seeing a valid practicing certificate each time they seek to engage a lawyer.

The issue of fake lawyers exploiting the public has come under increasing scrutiny as complaints to the LSZ and prosecutions of bogus lawyers continue to rise. 

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Members of the public are often defrauded by legal practitioners without valid licenses due to deregistration, suspension, or those with firms under curatorship.

Others have fallen victim to "touts" who are unregistered, lack the requisite qualifications and valid practicing certificates, and pose as lawyers, often approaching potential clients around Magistrates courts.

In January, LSZ Executive Secretary Edward Mapara advised the public to demand a valid 2024 practicing certificate from any legal practitioner they wish to engage from January 1, 2024. 

As of last year, nearly 700 lawyers were under investigation for various malpractices. Between 2017 and 2022, 60 lawyers were deregistered by the LSZ for misconduct. 

LSZ President Rumbidzai Matambo announced few weeks ago that the regulatory body is reviewing its disciplinary measures to swiftly handle complaints from the public against errant legal practitioners.

She said this is in line with the regulator's pursuit of effective regulation of the profession for the public's good.

Matambo acknowledged that the LSZ's Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal is facing significant backlog in dealing with the complaints it has received—but assured stakeholders that the Tribunal is working on efforts to clear the backlog to swiftly deliver justice.

She urged the media to play its role in "uprooting such malcontents from our midst". 

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