High Court

Malawi paralegal investigation given go-ahead by court

The Malawi law society has lost the first round in its battle over turf: it had asked the high court to squash an investigation being planned by the legal affairs committee of the national assembly. The investigation could see a recommendation that paralegals be allowed to defend certain cases in the magistrates’ courts. However, Judge Mike Tembo refused to stop the inquiry, and said the action reminded the court ‘of the colonial days … in which the law severely limited black people’s political participation’.


Read judgment

The case was brought by the Malawi law society (MLS) that asked the high court to consider whether hearings planned by the legal affairs committee (LAC) of parliament were legal. The hearings would be to investigate proposed law amendments that might allow paralegals to appear and play a limited role in the lower courts.

Fairness at divorce

Two new judgments from the courts in Kenya and Zimbabwe underline changing judicial views about the role of women in building up a family home and the contribution that women, as wives and mothers, may be said, on divorce, to have made. One stresses with new urgency that women who work in the home should stand up for their rights and, at divorce, be prepared to give evidence in court about the significance of their contribution to the home.

Read Kenyan judgment

Read Zimbabwean judgment

 

Women facing divorce settlements are often particularly vulnerable to claims that they are not entitled to equal shares of matrimonial property because their financial contributions to the property had been less than the contributions of their former husbands.

Charged and found guilty of ‘being pregnant’, school learners now awarded damages in compensation

A group of pregnant school learners, the boyfriends by whom they were pregnant, and the parents of some of them, have been awarded damages for their ‘arrest’ and conviction under community by-laws. Sentenced to pay fines, they were kept in police cells until the fines were paid in full. Now, however, the fines must be repaid, along with damages. The exact amount of damages due was finalised last week by the assistant high court registrar who also warned that community by-laws did not amount to formal law.

Read decision on damages

 

Five years after being arrested, charged, convicted and fined for ‘being pregnant’, a group of what were, at the time of the arrests, primary school girls, along with boys allegedly responsible for the pregnancies and the parents of some of the youngsters, have been awarded damages.

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