State must regulate legal fees-petitioner

A petitioner has proposed that government should put in place a legal framework to regulate legal fees charged by most lawyers for clients who require legal services.

Mr John Luputa, of Chongwe submitted that the high cost of legal fees imposed by lawyers were prohibitive for most citizens seeking justice and the fees being charged must be regulated by the Government.

He was making his submission to the Legal and Justice Sector Reform Commission chaired by Justice Fredrick Chomba in Chongwe yesterday.

“The legal fees being charged by lawyers are just too high for most Zambians to afford. When you go to consult a lawyer on a particular case, he will just demand that you pay K10,000. Government should put a limit to that and I would be grateful if government would regulate the legal fees being charged by the lawyers,” Mr Luputa said.

He said there is need to formulate legislation that would ensure that there was access for justice for all the people.

Mr Luputa also proposed that people appointed as magistrates should be above 35 years of age because the job was highly demanding and sensitive.

He said the job of the magistrate is a noble one but very tempting and that the integrity of the office should also be protected.

Mr Luputa submitted that chiefs should be involved in the appointment of magistrates and that the local people must be given priority to occupy these offices.

He said employing magistrates from other parts of the country should be discouraged because those might not be conversant with the culture and customs of that the area.

“When you bring magistrates from other areas you will need people to translate, and the translators might not be accurate. As a result the accused person loses the case,” Mr Luputa said.

Another petitioner Anuel Simwawa said the judiciary is highly compromised and politically aligned a situation which was affecting the dispensation of justice in the country.

Mr Simwawa proposed that constituency courts should be established in all the districts while the existing magistrates should be courts of appeal at district level.

Another petitioner Thompson Chakaleka said the number of High Court judges should increase to 150 while those for the Supreme Court to 80.