ACTING Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda has observed that the high legal fees charged by lawyers are hampering citizens from accessing justice.
She said this in Lusaka yesterday when she admitted 62 lawyers to the bar.
This is the highest number of students from the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE) to be admitted to the bar as advocates.
“I want to sound an alarm that the high legal fees being charged by lawyers have a number of potential implications. First, it means that people will use our services less or avoid us altogether.
“This is obviously undesirable, not from a purely selfish perspective but because citizens should be able to access legal services when they need them,” Mrs Justice Chibesakunda said.
She said avoiding the involvement of lawyers in every process until it goes “awry” results in larger costs than it would have been if legal advocates were engaged.
Mrs Justice Chibesakunda said the high cost of legal services result in some legal processes being done by lay people.
She said the situation has brought ridicule to the legal fraternity and it should be stopped because it has the potential to erode the standards and confidence citizens have in the profession.
And ZIALE director Enoch Mulembe said the assertions of corruption and interference with examinations and favouritism, are disturbing to the institution.
Mr Mulembe said the quality of legal education should not be compromised through inadequate facilities, poorly structured curricula and the use of unqualified lecturers.
He said to this effect, ZIALE will establish and implement an accreditation committee to approve schools of law.
Law Association of Zambia vice-president Martin Musaluke urged ZIALE management to “get rid” of the five year ban on rewriting imposed on students who fail examinations three consecutive times because it is old fashioned.