Another Top Lawyer Deregistered For Unethical Conduct

A Harare-based lawyer, Kudzai Mukanhairi, has been deregistered after she was found guilty of unethical conduct.

Mukanhairi, who practised for 10 years, was found guilty of by-passing a colleague, Linda Chipato, “stealing” her client while lying to her.

A disciplinary tribunal chaired by High Court judge Justice Joseph Musakwa found Mukanhairi guilty and ordered her deregistration before slapping her with costs.

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Mukanhairi, who was sued by the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), desperately tried to defend herself saying her conduct did not result in the complainant getting into conflict with her chosen legal practitioner.

She also argued that her conduct was meant to safeguard the interests of the complainant whom she had known for a year and to whom everyone at the law firm was emotionally attached.

Mukanhairi also denied using unrestrained language and claimed that what she wrote in a letter to Chipato’s client was the truth.

She further argued that her former employer was no longer serving the interests of the complainant.

Mukanhairi also argued that the move to deregister her was excessive and unprecedented.

Without citing any authority, she further claimed that there are many such cases like the present where errant legal practitioners have been punished with orders for costs de bonis propiis.

Nevertheless, Justice Musakwa said Mukanhairi’s conduct is unprofessional in three respects. Firstly, bypassing a fellow legal practitioner and secretly communicating with that legal practitioner’s client offends against the ethics of the profession.

In his ruling Justice Musakwa also observed that Mukanhairi was aware that her conduct was unethical and that is why she cautioned the complainant‘s representative not to disclose to Chipato. Added Musakwa:

In bypassing a fellow legal practitioner, the respondent also committed a serious transgression. She out rightly labeled Chipato a liar to her client in contradiction of qualities she is supposed to posses as a lawyer.

The court found Mukanhairi guilty of unprofessional, dishonourable or unworthy conduct. It also noted that a legal practitioner has a duty to uphold the law and not to undermine it adding that the duty entails furthering the interests of the administration of justice to the best of one’s ability.

On the contrary, the court observed, Mukanhairi sought to divert from that fundamental obligation and she did not seem to be aware of this enormous responsibility.

According to the tribunal, her behaviour reflects that she is not a fit and proper person to continue practising law. Added the court:

This accords with the attitude of the applicant which we take into account. we take view that the respondent’s misconduct is of gross nature that she warrants deregistration. Accordingly, it is ordered that the respondent’s name be deleted from the register of legal practitioners, notaries and conveyancers.

The case comes shortly after a handful of top lawyers were also deregistered for unethical conduct.

More: Pindula News; NewZimbabwe

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