Saturday, October 24, 2020

Law Society worried by excessive use of SA advocates

The Botswana Law Society is worried by the excessive use of South African advocates by some law firms in Botswana.

The Chairman of the Law Society, Duma Boko, said a process has already been kick-started to make sure South African advocates are used sparingly, and only when it can be proved that they are needed.

The discomfort with the excessive use of these advocates stems from the fact that, in the end, the costs are passed to clients.

Boko said the Law Society has realized that some law firms have, for one reason or another, resorted to keeping in-house SA advocates in their offices who they use to even draft letters.

That is unnecessary.

He said the interpretation is that such advocates are either not good enough in their countries or are not able to make enough money.

To protect clients, the Law Society wants to come up with a policy.

There has also been a controversy simmering on how foreign lawyers are allowed to practice in Botswana when the same hospitality is not awarded Botswana lawyers, including in the SADC region.

On another matter, Boko said the Law Society welcomes the recent decision to advertise positions for the High Court judges.

He says transparency will be enhanced, and the decision to advertise will do away with the widely held view that, under the old system, the High Court judge positions were reserved for certain people.

Boko, however, said there has to be a consensus on the criteria of who qualifies.

He said the ten-year experience cut-off, which appears on the adverts is not enough.

He said there are people who would have such experience but who would not have had the opportunity to deal with intricate legal matters requiring a thorough application of a legal mind required of a judge.

Boko said apart from experience, it has to be demonstrated that the applicants would, during their legal career, have handled complex matters which necessarily required them to have acquired the necessary intellectual capacity to become judges.

This, he said, would ensure that standards are kept to the highest possible limits, while also not unfairly eliminating people who have what it takes to become competent judges.

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