Legal costs too high: Mnangagwa

Source: Legal costs too high: Mnangagwa – DailyNews Live

Blessings Mashaya      6 April 2017

HARARE – Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has concurred with sentiment
from the public that the legal costs in Zimbabwe are too high.

Debating a report of the portfolio committee on Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs on Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling
Commercial and Other Disputes) Bill, Mnangagwa said he shared the concerns
of the public about the high level of legal costs

“However, please take note that I, as minister can fix a lower level of
costs for cases that are heard in the small claims courts,” Mnangagwa, who
is also Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister, said.

The Bill has just been the subject of public hearings conducted last
month.  The second reading debates will not be concluded until the
portfolio committee has finalised presenting its report on the Bill and
the outcome of the public hearings.

The committee chairperson Ziyambi Ziyambi said people welcomed the Bill.

“As regards the issue of affordability of legal services at the small
claims court, the committee found that there is need for the Act to
provide for stringent regulations for charges against litigants at the
small claims courts.

“Participants were generally pleased by the proposed amendment because if
passed, it will expedite the resolution of disputes and thus address the
issue of backlogs bedevilling the justice delivery system.

“Also in terms of access to justice and the right to legal representation,
participants welcomed this amendment in that it affords litigants the
right of representation even at small claims courts, which effectively
realigned the Small Claims Court Act to the Constitution. However, due
regard should be made to ensure affordability of services rendered by
legal practitioners.”

Speaking during the same debate, Kuwadzana East MDC MP Nelson Chamisa said
government was taking the right steps in the right direction.

“Very unusual, but we must appreciate it all the same.  This is a
progressive amendment again of our laws, particularly to deal with the
advent of commercial disputes.

“The spirit is very good, the direction is very good and the motivation
and reasons are very good and must be supported because we are now moving
onto an electronic platform even in the justice system.

“Access to justice is not access to justice if we do not have mechanisms
of that access and access is only engendered when we are able exploit
modern-day technologies to enable representation, access to justice and
judge ments to be made, and decisions to be arrived at without people
necessarily having to transport themselves to the courts.”