The Law Society of Botswana (LSB) has rejected the proposed Legal Practitioners (Amendments) Bill saying it contradicts the agreements the society had with government.
In a statemeant LSB said the Bill, which is currently before Parliament, is regressive as it omits some of the central themes suggested for the transformation of the legal fraternity.
The Society pointed out that some of the key areas of change, which it had envisaged to be included following extensive discussions, were provision for the incorporation of law firms and the payment of subscriptions by legal practitioners at the Attorney General who are members of the Society.
Other suggestions included taking away the privilege of persons employed in government entities to appear before the courts, improving standards of practice and restricting the routine admission of foreign advocates on ad hoc basis. According to LSB, the incorporation of legal practices is important as it makes it much easier for lawyers to run their legal practices like businesses. It also allows lawyers the use of their practices to raise finance for expansion, from financial institutions and to build much larger practices than it is currently the case.
The LSB further said there is no reason why legal practitioners employed by government should not contribute to the regulation and
“Legal practitioners at the Attorney General are currently members of the Society but do not pay any subscriptions,” read the statement.
“The result is that the Society is under funded and is therefore unable to competently discharge some of its statutory obligations such as compliance by legal practitioners with the Financial Intelligence Act.”
The Society argued that in professions such as nursing, engineering and architecture, there is no disparity in treatment between those in private practice and those working for government. “Apart from the fact that the Bill fails to meet the Society’s minimum expectations, it is generally very poorly drafted. There is complete incompatibility between the Bill and the memorandum,” said LSB.
“The memorandum identifies as one of the objects of the Bill the abolition of the exemption from paying subscriptions that Government attorneys currently enjoy, yet the Bill retains the exemption.”
LSB further said the Bill is regressive in making Judges of the Industrial Court and the High Court members of the Law Society, adding that the errors reflect that the Bill is not ready to be presented to Parliament.