Sunday, September 20, 2020

Banks investigated for forcing own lawyers on customers

Botswana’s commercial banks are forcing their customers to use the bank’s preferred panel of lawyers in transactions involving the moving of property, instead of allowing the customers to shop for preferred attorneys, it has emerged.

In an interview with The Sunday Standard, the newly appointed chairperson of the Botswana Law Society, Duma Boko, confirmed that a complaint by various law firms and practicing attorneys had been filed with the law society about the emerging practices.
“The law society has been asked to investigate reports that Botswana’s local banks are forcing customers to deal with their own preferred panel of lawyers,” said Boko. “The situation is such that clients cannot determine who should represent them although they are the ones paying for the legal services offered in these transactions.”

Boko, who was voted into the chairmanship of the legal grouping by the Law Society’s Council last year in December, said that the Law Society believed there was a discriminatory practice by the banks and added that the Law Society was determined to find out the criteria used by banks to cluster and give preference to some law firms over others as well as forcing customers to change their preferred lawyers.

“The banks are indirectly moving a motion of no confidence on their customers and their preferred law firms and Attorneys,” he said.

Boko also expressed concern about the independence of the country’s judiciary. He said the judiciary independence was being compromised because of the discriminatory pay structures for judges pointing out that some judges were permanent and personable while others were on contract and not entitled to a gratuity.

Boko also lashed out at the country’s case management system which he said should be speedier and more efficient, especially for a system that is responsible for rendering justice.

Boko is expected to give a speech at the opening of the legal year next Tuesday.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.