Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Attorney loses case against Law Society

Attorney Chris Du Plessis lost his case against the Law Society of Botswana before Judge Steven Gaongalelwe on Wednesday.

Judge Gaongalelwe dismissed an urgent application by Du Plessis seeking to be granted a practicing certificate.

Du Plessis took the LSB to court after the Society had written to the Registrar that there were adverse findings of audited and forensic reports of Du Plessis’ trust account, which, by his own admission, have been “less than perfectly kept.”

Consequently, the Registrar refused to issue him with a practicing certificate.

Du Plessis, represented by advocate Peter Ohalloran, sought an order from the High Court setting aside the entire audit report as ‘ultra vires’ but at the same time sought that he be issued a practicing certificate on the basis of the same report.

Judge Gaongalelwe, who was not amused, persistently asked Ohalloran how he and his client could seek an order declaring the audit ‘ultra vires’ while in another breath their argument was that Du Plessis is to be granted a practicing certificate on the basis of the same audit report. The judge said the argument was based on the fact that there is a sentence in the same report which stated that the trust account books were found compliant with two specific provisions of the Act.

“It is clear that the entire application is replete with inconsistencies and is fatally defective…with all these obstacles, nothing meaningful would be achieved by directing that the matter proceed in the ordinary course,” said Judge Gaongalelwe.

The LSB had submitted that there was no urgency in Du Plessis’ court application since he knew about the adverse findings of the reports since 26 August 2010 but did not act. Also that on 28 January 2011 the LSB informed Du Plessis of its intention to approach the court to have him struck off the roll.

“Mr Du Plessis knew of the reviewable decisions by the Law Society. He ought to have started working towards getting the matter reviewed. He has done nothing. It was incumbent upon him to take steps to make sure that the decision is reviewed,” lawyer Reuben Kamushinda submitted before the judge.

Kamushinda put it to Du Plessis that trust account should always be ready for audit.
“It is the Holy Grail of a law firm,” said the attorney representing LSB.

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