Local lawyer Sisa Namandje has successfully staved off the legal challenge against him after the High Court dismissed an application by the Law Society of Namibia (LSN) to gain access to his firm’s trust account, while the court questioned LSN of its conduct to investigate him.
LSN applied to the High Court for a search and seizure warrant to allow it to inspect the records of Namandje’s law firm Sisa Namandje & Co Inc trust account in relation to alleged dubious transactions amounting to N$23 million.
Dismissing the application, Judge Herman Oosthuizen ruled that the application was not properly and lawfully authorised.
Furthermore, LSN failed to indicate that they have reasonable belief Namandje and his firm are guilty of unsatisfactory conduct.
“To the contrary, it appears that decisions to investigate were taken due thereto that respondents were accused of being involved in the fishing matter. The identity of the accusers was not revealed. It seems to primarily refer to uncorroborated and edited accusations made in a Al Jazeera broadcast on 1 December 2019,” said Oosthuizen.
It was the court’s finding that LSN failed to provide the court with the full council resolutions authorising the launch of its lawsuit against Namandje and his law firm.
“The very fact that the Law Society of Namibia could not or did not want to disclose minutes of their alleged meetings of 13 December 2019 and 24 January 2020 despite Mr Namandje’s requests therefore since 18 December 2019 through to 14 February 2020, minutes which are the responsibility of the director and the best evidence of the resolutions taken (with the actual resolutions), caused the legality of the Law Society of Namibia’s alleged resolutions to remain pertinent,” explained Oosthuizen.
In addition to the dismissal, the LSN was also ordered to foot the legal bills of Namandje’s legal team in addition to paying the legal costs of their own legal representation.
The court questioned why LSN left its director to bring forth the search and seizure application when legally she is not authorised to do so.
Oosthuizen explained that Namandje was right in denying the LSN director to investigate his firm’s trust account since there is no provision within the Legal Practitioner’s Act which gives the director powers to investigate the books or account of any legal practitioner, only the council has such powers.
“The director is the Chief Administrative Officer of the LSN, not its Chief Executive Officer. Such a delegation is in essence an abdication of powers by the council in anticipation of what may or may not happen in future,” clarified Oosthuizen.
According to the court, only two of the five council members were present at the meeting, which decided to investigate Namandje. Council members were not present as they were allegedly conflicted. “I am seriously concerned by the modus operandi followed by the LSN as the regulating body of all enrolled legal practitioners in Namibia in this matter. It displays an attitude by the council of the LSN and its elected councillors, of distancing themselves from possible controversial decisions and procedure. They essentially put the director in the line of fire where not she, but they, are accountable,” noted Oosthuizen.