Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Boko guilty of professional misconduct

The Law Society of Botswana Disciplinary Committee (LSBDC) has found Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Duma Boko guilty of professional misconduct.

According to documents seen by The Telegraph Boko, who was in 2011 the sole propriety/partner and principal at the law firm, was fined P3 500 for neglecting the affairs of his client one Alfred Koboyankwe.

Boko, a former Law Society of Botswana chairperson, was also fined P7000.00 for failure to attend Court on behalf of his client and another P7000.00 for failing to perform a professional work of a kind commonly performed by a practitioner with such a degree of skill as expected of him.

The judgement against Boko was delivered by Lebogang Pillar of LSBDC and other members Tholoana Phooko and Thabiso Tafila agreed with her.

According to the judgment despite being instructed, Boko & Company did not execute their mandate, in that the Attorneys never entered an appearance to defend. It states that as a result of failure to enter an appearance, Koboyankwe got a default judgement on the 7th December 2011. 

Apparently, Boko attorneys failed to reverse the judgement and
they also appealed the decision but out of time, Pillar found. She also stated that the attorneys did not seek or apply for condonation.

“Failure to apply for condonation also resulted in the appeal being dismissed and the complainant’s property worth P280 000. 00 was executed. Judgement in the sum of P426 772.60 was granted and further costs in the sum of P18 340.00 was levied against complainant,” reads the judgement.

She said the Disciplinary has on the 9th September 2014 found a prima facie case against Boko.

“The letter communicating the decision is dated 22nd September 2014 and shows that such communication was received by Boko & Co on the 24th September 2014,” said Pillar.

She said such letter called upon Boko to answer in an affidavit the allegations levelled against him.

“To date there has not been any response from Mr. Duma Boko, or any of his employees. The Disciplinary Committee therefore proceeds to finalise this matter without any input from Boko,” read the judgement.

The Law Society’s Disciplinary Committee also found that “the facts establish, without doubt, that Attorney Duma Boko and or his employees acted in a manner unbefitting or any attorney in that though instructed, the Attorney did not act on the mandate given to him by his client and never entered Appearance to Defend resulting in a default judgement being granted against their client,” Pillar stated in her judgement.

The Committee also noted with great concern that the firm failed to enter an appearance to defend the matter and subsequently on
attempting to remedy the situation, filed the application for
rescission out of time. 

“To compound the matter, no application for condonation was filed. The above repeated failure by the firm whilst inexcusable are aggravated by the extent of the loss suffered by the Complainant. The Committee has therefore decided to impose a stiffer penalty against the Attorney, which is intended to act as a deterrent,” the judgment stated.

In his affidavit before the High Court, Koboyankwe explained that summons were filed against him on 20th August 2011 by one Cecilia Mmolawa before the Lobatse High Court. He said he proceeded to give his attorneys instructions and regrettably they did not act on his instructions and did not even enter appearance to defend. As a result he said, a default judgement was entered and his property was attached on account of negligence on “account of my Attorneys Duma Boko and Co.”

A letter addressed to Boko by Law Society of Botswana Secretary Tebogo Moipolai dated 6th May 2014, read: “The Disciplinary Committee has resolved that, in a bid to encourage amicable resolution of complaints, the complaint be placed before you to consider it and explore possibilities of resolving the issue with the complainant.”

He informed Boko: “You have fourteen days from date of this letter to advice (sic) on the prospects of resolution. If there are none the Disciplinary Committee will then proceed to determine if the complainant discloses a prima facie case of misconduct as per Section 50(20).”

In another letter dated 22 September 2014, Moipolai also addressed another letter to Boko, stating: “The Committee found that a prima facie case of professional misconduct has been shown by the complainant.”  He called on Boko to respond and give “a full account of the matter.”

“Kindly note that should you not respond, the Committee may proceed to consider the complaint without your response and may also draw inferences that may be adverse to you. The Committee also considers failure to respond as an act of professional misconduct as per regulation 42.1.24 and may proceed against you for this misconduct in accordance with regulation 43(5),” stated Moipolai.


Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.