THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has found Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general Wynter Kabimba “guilty” of impropriety in a case in which a Bank of Zambia (BoZ) employee, Phales Chiwila had complained that he misconducted himself when he represented her over a dispute with her employers.
The legal practitioners committee that sat on Friday, May 20, 2011 also quashed Mr Kabimba’s K12-million bill that he had submitted to Ms Chiwila in the midst of the dispute.
The bill would have nullified Ms Chiwila’s claim of K10 million that she had paid as legal fees but she demanded that Mr Kabimba should discontinue his representation and asked for the refund, which the lawyer failed to honour.
Ms Chiwila raised a complaint against the conduct of Mr Kabimba and claimed that the PF secretary general offered to refund her but he had not done so and she had since failed to engage another lawyer to represent her.
Details before the committee, mainly composed of State counsels that included veteran lawyer Patrick Mvunga, were that Mr Kabimba had failed to refund Ms Chiwila K10 million legal fees after he withdrew his representation but instead produced another bill of K12 million.
Mr Kabimba had been representing Ms Chiwila since 2009 in a case in which she had sued her employers, BoZ contesting that the central bank did not fund her medical bills in full when she travelled to South Africa’s Milpark Clinic for medical treatment.
The bank refused to pay her 80 per cent of the 130,000 rands in medical bills on account of lack of funds in line with her conditions of service but she sued after getting evidence that there was K500 million in the account for workers’ medical requirements.
Mr Kabimba had initially been summoned through administrative assistant Sipelile Mwila on March 18, 2011 but the case could not be heard because the PF secretary general was out on other businesses.
LAZ was established under section 13 (3) Chapter 31 to hear cases of alleged misconduct by lawyers against their clients and has powers to suspend or ban lawyers from practicing if found wanting.
Ms Mwila advised that Mr Kabimba and Ms Chiwila could bring witnesses and documents to support their arguments.
When hearing took place at LAZ offices in Rhodes Park, Mr Kabimba was alone and Ms Chiwila was also alone.
The committee asked Ms Chiwila to explain her case before Mr Kabimba could defend himself.
After about 45 minutes of the hearing, the committee ordered Mr Kabimba to pay K5 million and also dismissed his claim that he was owed K12 million in legal fees and yet representation was discontinued.
Ms Chiwila, in her four-page letter of complaint to LAZ stated that she issued instructions to Mr Kabimba to subpoena deputy BoZ governor for administration Tukiya Mabula to ask her on the contradictions between the bank’s sworn affidavits and their own testimonies but that was not done.
She also said the bank was in possession of a full document by its disciplinary committee and her lawyer should have made sure that he asked for it after the bank’s lawyer ruled the earlier one as not authentic.
In her letter dated December 8, 2010 to Mr Kabimba, Ms Chiwila stated that the secretary and chairperson of the disciplinary committee should be summoned to deal with the document.
The other complaint was that among the documents submitted to the Industrial Relations Court where the matter was being heard, there was crucial correspondence that compounded the whole matter in her favour.
Her view was that Mr Kabimba should have declared interest in the matter because he did not appear keen on dealing with her matter and that at some point, he was absent from court and told her that he was ill but she found him working in his office the same day.
Ms Chiwila also complained that when BoZ changed lawyers and engaged MNB Practitioners, Mr Kabimba did not alert her and she only learnt about it in court.
She said it was because of these differences that she sought to clarify how serious he was and he responded by telling her to seek the services of another lawyer and promised to refund her, which was not done.
Mr Kabimba confirmed having attended the sitting but said he was not available to give details on the matter.
“Find out from LAZ not me. When there is a case do you get details from the defendant or the plaintiff? Go to LAZ and get the details about that case,” he said.
Asked whether he had paid the money, Mr Kabimba insisted that the details could still be obtained from LAZ.