RULING OF THE LAW ASSOCIATION OF ZAMBIA AGAINST MR. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU
On 16th April 2009, the Legal Practitioners Committee (LPC) of the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) received a complaint from a Ms Wendy Kanyanta against Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu claiming he had illegally obtained fees of K36,080.42 from compensation meant for her despite already being paid costs of K40,000.00 from the unsuccessful party, Lafarge Cement, who were her former employers.
Both parties were summoned before the LPC on 24th July 2009 and Mr Lungu was asked to respond to the accusation. Mr Lungu admitted having obtained the money on the understanding that they were legal costs due to him for the services rendered and that an agreement existed between him and the client – which was denied by the client. Following his response, the Legal Practitioners Committee asked for proof for this position but Mr Lungu failed to provide any.
At the next sitting of the LPC on 18th September 2009, it was proven that Mr Lungu did deduct his client’s monies illegally despite receiving costs of K40,000.00 from Lafarge. Mr Lungu did not dispute this finding of the committee and accepted he had acted illegally.
The LPC declared Mr Lungu’s conduct entirely illegal after referring to Rule 17(1) of the Legal Practitioners Practice Rules, 2002 which provides that, “a Practitioner shall inform clients about charges or fees and the basis for such charges on taking instructions.”
Mr Lungu’s failure to inform the client in writing without reasonable cause amounted to professional misconduct or conduct unbefitting a lawyer. It was ordered that Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu should pay back that amount within sixty days from 4th March 2010 when the ruling was made or face further disciplinary proceedings.
In contravention of the order of the LPC, Mr Lungu only paid K9,000.00 of the K36,080.42.
This forced Ms. Kanyanta to sue in the subordinate court under cause no. 2010/CRMP/688 on 6th August 2010 for the balance of K27,080.42. Mr. Lungu admitted guilt to the claim in court on 19th August 2010 and applied to settle the debt in instalments of K5,000.00