latest content

Lesotho’s Minister of Law and Justice sues over allegations he helped fabricate evidence in murder case against former PM, Thomas Thabane

It has been a very busy few weeks in Lesotho. Included in these developments was a major cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, as well as the launch of new politically-charged court cases. Among the most interesting of these cases is a defamation action brought by the minister of law and justice,  Nqosa Mahao. In a newly-filed case he seeks to challenge a newspaper story that carried allegations against him made by a senior police officer.

For some time, there have been rumblings in Lesotho: given the allegedly water-tight case implicating former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in the murder of his former wife, why had he still not been charged? Included in this evidence was said to be the ‘fact’ that his own mobile phone was used at the site of the murder.

'Catastrophic' Nigerian oil pollution case may be heard in the UK - Supreme Court

Two Nigerian communities, hard hit through the devastation of their environment by oil spills, have won a legal victory in the UK supreme court that could have wide-reaching effects not only on their own situation, but in similar cases in future. The communities have been trying to sue Royal Dutch Shell for alleged negligence in Nigeria that has led to the severe pollution of their traditional lands.

Read judgment

Given all that has been written about the plight of the Niger delta communities overwhelmed with pollution caused by more than 50 years of oil operations, it is hard to choose the best - or worst - example to illustrate the disaster’s scale, and thus show why the new judgment is so important.

Which set of lawyers has the duty of care when an ‘impersonator’ makes off with the money paid by a would-be buyer?

Suppose a law firm draws up a land sale agreement between a client ‘well known to them’ and an outside party, and one of its lawyers witnesses the agreement, accompanies the parties to the bank and witnesses the payment of the funds to that same client.

Read judgment

When Barbara Namayega bought land in Kampala she had no idea she would soon land in deep trouble, paying the full sale price to someone who had merely ‘impersonated’ the owner and thus conned her out of her money. Indignant and determined to get her money back, she has now sued the lawyer who drafted and witnessed the sale agreement.

Judge sets new Malawi benchmark in child rape case

Against the background of a sharp and disturbing rise in the rape of children in Malawi (a problem in a number of other jurisdictions as well), a prominent high court judge has delivered a decision setting a new benchmark for sentence and judicial comment in response to such crimes. His important new judgment comes as police in Malawi have released new rape statistics showing that the number of young girls raped (or ‘defiled’ in terms of Malawi’s law) is far higher than the number of adult women raped.

Read judgment

Malawi’s Judge Redson Kapindu is used to expressing controversial views on the law. As a law lecturer in South Africa, he had no hesitation in drafting insightful critiques of SA’s apex constitutional court. This was in his then capacity as law teacher at the University of Johannesburg, and as deputy director of the South African Institute for advanced constitutional, public, human right and international law.

Hotel owners refused another ‘bite at the cherry’ by Zambia’s supreme court

The supreme court of Zambia, involved in a dispute about damages following a bizarre defamation, have refused to consider an application brought under the slip rule. The court said the rule was intended to fix minor problems like dates, not allow litigants with a long list of complaints about the original judgment to have a ‘second bite at the cherry’ aimed at attempting to secure a more favourable outcome.

Read judgment:

The first thing to notice about this judgment is the way that it begins. It is not often that a court will point out that its decision has been sadly delayed, and offer a reason.

Crisis averted in the Kenyan judiciary – for now at least

Kenya’s deputy chief justice, Philomena Mwilu, has been under pressure since she was arrested and charged in connection with corruption and tax related offences in 2018. But that has only increased since former chief justice, David Maraga, left office to take leave, pending retirement, late last year. Early in January 2021, an application, ultimately unsuccessful, was made for her to be prevented from taking over as Acting Chief Justice. And last week, a different application was granted, on an interim basis, for a similar order.

Just a fortnight after one high court judge threw out an attempt to suspend Kenya’s Acting Chief Justice, Philomena Mwilu, another judge did exactly that – and more.

High court judge Patrick Otieno sent shockwaves through the judiciary and the legal profession when, on January 29, he granted several temporary orders against the beleaguered deputy chief justice, Judge Mwilu. She is also currently acting as chief justice pending the appointment of a new candidate to fill the post vacated by former CJ David Maraga last month.

UK hold on Chagos archipelago declared unlawful

Most inland countries would ignore decisions of the world’s maritime court, the International Tribune for the Law of the Sea (Itlos). But this decision is different. It sheds important light on one of the few places in the world still regarded by many (including the United Nations) as a colony that should be returned to its original people. This time the ‘colony’ is the Chagos Archipelago – a group of islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius says the islands are a part of its territory. But the UK denies this.

Read judgment

Put simply, Mauritius wants the Chagos Archipelago back. Several thousand people from these islands were removed by the UK between 1968 and 1974 to make way for a UK and US military base. Now Mauritius says these people and their descendants want to go home, and Mauritius sees itself as the legitimate governing authority of the group of islands.

Making history, Intl Criminal Court convicts former Uganda militia leader of war crimes, crimes against humanity

Dominic Ongwen, a former commander with the Lord’s Resistance Army that terrorised areas of northern Uganda for decades, has been convicted by the International Criminal Court of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Sentence is yet to be passed.

Read the summary of the verdict

For days, the court itself and human rights organisations had previewed the awaited verdict that was to be given at the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Thursday 4 February 2021.

'Global jurist of the year': prestige award goes to Kenya’s Justice Mumbi Ngugi

One of the most prominent judges in Kenya has been given a major reward in recognition of her work in support of human rights. Judge Mumbi Ngugi, who sits on the anti-corruption and economic crimes division of the high court in Kenya, is also a world advocate for the rights of people with albinism at a time when, in certain parts of the world such as Kenya, people with albinism are targeted and sometimes even killed for ritual purposes.

Judge Mumbi Ngugi of Kenya's high court is a ‘role model’ for the law faculty of Northwestern University in the USA as well as for its students, ‘who aspire to be future Justice Ngugis’. That’s according to the Centre for International Human Rights (CIHR) at Northwestern University, the institution that is to award its annual prize to the Kenyan jurist.

Pages