In this week’s round of an ongoing dispute over the validity of Malawi’s Covid-19 restrictions, the high court has ruled that the government's planned regulations may still not be put into effect. The court has referred these challenges to the Chief Justice who will consider setting up a high court constitutional panel that would hear the problem and find a way forward. At its heart, the dispute is about whether the proposed restrictions have a valid legal base and/or contravene the constitution.
Both the two key issues in this judgment will have sent shock waves through Malawi’s legal community. First, the court confirmed that the challenge to the validity of the country’s Covid-19 restrictions was weighty enough to be referred to the Chief Justice, Andrew Nyirenda. If the CJ certified it was necessary, a special panel of high court judges would sit to decide the constitutional issues raised.