Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Chief justice impute impropriety against lawyers, judges and High Court staff

Chief Justice, Maruping Dibotelo has stopped short of accusing High Court judges of receiving bribes from some lawyers and their clients.

In a strongly worded circular addressed to the Attorney General and legal practitioners, Dibotelo insinuated that some of his colleagues could be benefiting from underhanded dealings.

The Chief Justice prayed that “God forbid that those Judges who are said to be sympathetic to the cases of attorneys involved in such sordid practices do not get any benefit or greasing of their hands.”

To curb what he termed forum shopping and registration of originating process, Dibotelo said the practice by attorneys of filing cases in two different courts with the motive of the registration process picking up a judge favourable or sympathetic to their case will be a thing of the past.

He said such attorneys lodge copies of the same matter in Gaborone and Lobatse courts for registration with the motive of the registration process picking up a judge favourable or sympathetic to their case.

He further said those who are involved in this practice may well be greasing the hands of registries staff to connive and cooperate with them.

“as one way of curbing the sordid practice of forum or judge shopping you are hereby notified that with immediate effect no originating process shall be accepted for registration at the High Court registries in Lobatse and all the originating process shall only be accepted and registered in High Court registries in Gaborone,” he said.

He said filing of any subsequent pleadings or documents shall then be done at the High Court registry at the location of the judge allocated and managing the case which will either Gaborone or Lobatse.

It is understood that early this year the Law Society of Botswana (LSB) resolved to lodge a formal complaint with Justice Dibotelo against some judges of the High Court and Court of Appeal.
At a special meeting held on 18th January this year, the LSB expressed concern that the conduct of some judges was bringing disrepute to the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Insiders revealed that scores of lawyers had resorted to forum shopping in a bid to avoid appearing before judges who are wont to embarrass and ridicule them.

Forum shopping is a process by which a plaintiff chooses among two or more courts that have the power — technically, the correct jurisdiction and venue — to consider the plaintiff’s case. This decision is based on which court is likely to consider the case most favourably. In some instances, a case can properly be filed in two or more courts. It often involves weighing a number of factors, including the reputation of the judge in the particular court.

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