In Their Own Words:  

Read judgment in Mponda v President

Judge Zione Ntaba, High Court, Malawi

This case dealt with an application by four law students who challenged the validity of Malawi’s Covid-19-related restrictions and asked that these restrictions, and the legislation in terms of which they were promulgated, be reviewed by the court. Before she reached the legal issues raised by the students, however, Judge Zione Ntaba had something to say about the fact that no legal representatives of the government, the university or the attorney general were in court to appear before her when the case was argued. She was particularly concerned given the significance of the matter to be argued. And she was definitely not impressed with the excuse provided.

The Respondents did not appear on the date of hearing for the inter partes application for leave for judicial review nor had they filed a sworn statement because according to the email sent to the Assistant Registrar, Her Honour Kayira, the documents for the inter partes application were not brought to their attention by the person who accepted service from the Applicants.

The Court must be quick to point out that this kind of conduct is deplorable especially where matters of such significance as the present one are concerned. The rules are very clear that supervising Counsel must take responsibility for the acts or omissions of clerical officers in the legal house. This applies squarely to the Attorney General’s Chambers as well. It is imperative that the Attorney General’s Chambers should ensure that best practices are adopted to avert a scenario such as the present one recurring.

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