Botswana: High Court Nullifies Law Society Charge

| July 13, 2016

The High Court has nullified Law Society of Botswana charges of professional misconduct which were levelled against Tebogo Sebego of Sebego Attorneys. - Notaries, Conveyancers and Patent Agents.

Law Society of Botswana Disciplinary Committee (LSBDC) hearing had found Sebego guilty of professional misconduct and fined him P7 500 for neglecting to give proper attention to his former clients Agnes Duduzile Brook, and Michael Brook.

The Brooks had complained to Law Society that Sebego had defrauded them, neglected their cases and charged legal costs for court appearances for which he had not appeared, hence he was found guilty by the LSBDC.

However Sebego,who is also Botswana Football Association (BFA) president approached the High Court last year to nullify LSBDC decision on the grounds that the procedure adopted by the DC was unfair having regard to the rules of natural justice.

He argued DC failed to follow its own procedure as outlined in the Legal Practitioners Act, and its decision was unreasonable as it was unsupported by evidence.

However passing the judgement on Monday, Acting Gaborone High Court Judge Zain Dr Kebonang said in his heads of argument the applicant contended that the decision of the Abdoola Rahim Khan, who was the chairperson of Law Society of Botswana Disciplinary Committee and Law Society of Botswana failed to discharge its investigative duty.

Judge Kebonang said in heads of argument the applicant further contended that the DC failed to provide him with sufficient particulars of complaints, and also failed to respond to the request to provide further evidence by way of affidavit.

He said both chairperson of Law Society of Botswana Disciplinary Committee and Law Society of Botswana argued that the applicant had failed to make a case for review and that none of his rights had been violated.

Judge Kebonang in his ruling said it should be accepted that when attorney undertook to act on behalf of clients, he invoked himself the entire structure of the code of conduct of professional responsibility and its consequent enforcement through disciplinary proceedings.

He said allegations of misconduct involving attorney were dealt with under the legal practioners act, adding that in terms of the Act, complaints of professional misconduct against a legal practioner were to be referred to the DC.

On receipt, of the complaint, he said the DC should not only investigate the complaint but where it was satisfied that a prima facie case of misconduct against attorney had been established, it should refer the matter to the Law Society Council.

He said if the misconduct warranted a suspension or disbarment of an attorney it may itself impose what it considered to be an appropriate disciplinary sanction.

However Judge Kebonang concluded that a prima facie case could only be made where the Law Society had undertaken an evaluation of the credibility of the complaint submitted to it and evidence adduced to determine whether element of the complaints had been established.

"There can therefore be no finding of a prima facie case in the absence of an investigation, the mere filing of complaint does not discharge the burden of gathering and evaluating evidence, which is a pre-requisite to finding of a prima facie case," he said.

Sebego was represented by Busang Manewe while he law society was represented by Gabriel Komboni. The Brooks were represented by Herbert Sikhakhane.

Source: Botswana Daily News

Category: Governance

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