Seven attorneys have taken the Law Society of Botswana (LSB) to court after they were blacklisted from practicing law.
Unoda Mack, Situ Chilume, Anna Motlhagodi, Shaboyo Motsamai, Patricia Corentin, Isaack Seloko and Obolokile Sekga have lodged an urgent application before the High Court against the LSB.
The aggrieved lawyers want the High Court to declare as unlawful the publication made by the LSB, advising members of the public that they are not members of the law society. They also want the LSB to retract publications it made in the print and electronic media to the effect that they are not entitled to practice.
Represented by Moses Kadye Attorneys, the lawyers argue that the issuance of the publication is unlawful and harmful to their professional integrity.
“The said attorneys have not been removed from the roll of Attorneys by the Registrar of the High Court in terms of Section 32(4) of the Legal Practitioners Act and as such remain members of the Law Society of Botswana,” say the lawyers in their affidavits.
They argue that by virtue of Section 58 of the Legal Practitioner’s Act of 1996, only members of the Society whose names have been removed from the roll by the Registrar of the High Court cease to be members of the Society.
Further, the attorneys argue that in terms of the Act if a legal practitioner fails to apply for a practicing certificate for any year after the expiration of his certificate, the Registrar shall notify the legal practitioner of such by means of a registered letter posted to him at his last known address. The attorneys say they have never been served with such notice of expiration of practice certificates by the Registrar of the High Court.
On its part, the LSB says the attorneys do not hold practicing certificates for 2011 so they are not entitled to practice until they have regularized with the society and the Registrar of the High Court.
“As a result of the wrongful and unlawful publication, the applicants shall not be given audience in the various Courts in which they have pending matters, they will not be able to file documents in the Deeds Registry, Company registry, Land Tribunal, Industrial Court, and other Courts and we anticipate mass exodus of clients from their Law firms. Their ability to attract new or potential clients has been destroyed. There is also a possibility that those holding positions in various boards, panels and tribunals may be removed from office as their integrity has been seriously tarnished.”
Seloko is a member of the Central Committee of the Botswana Democratic Party.
He is also Chairman of the Intelligence Tribunal, a quasi judicial organ that oversees the operations of the Directorate of Intelligence Services.
To cite an example of how his clients are losing business as a result of the LSP publication, the respondents’ lawyer says “on Thursday CEDA attorney, Mr Lesole, called, 7th Applicant, Obolokile Sekga and advised her that they are concerned about the publication and would not be able to send legal work to her because of the publication “.