TO: THE JUDICIAL COMPLAINT COMMISSION
31st January, 2013.
Dear, Chairperson of the Complaints Committee
REF: COMPLAINT AGAINST JUDGE WOOD UNDER THE JUDICIAL (CODE OF
CONDUCT) ACT NO. 13 OF 199
The above subject matter refers.
The Zambian Voice (abbreviated as ZV) is a Civil Society Organisation. The organisation prepares Zambian people for effective civic participation that sustains a democratic society and enhances the quality of life in both local rural and urban communities using provided evidence. ZV is a pro-poor civil advocate which promotes Good Governance, access to Justice and Human Rights.
The Zambian Voice in the interest of the public, we hereby wish to apply for an investigation to be conducted on whether Wood J.,(i) undermined communications between Judges which is critical in the performance of their duties and whether he breached the oath of secrecy when he disclosed information to the defendants in the Development Bank of Zambia v. JCN Holdings Limited, Post Newspapers Limited and Mutembo Nchito 2009/HPC/0322 case about the discussion he had with Kajimanga J., his Deputy Judge in charge; (ii) for partiality or biasness and (iii) the irregular transfer of the above case.
Justice Wood is a judicial officer and as such should uphold the integrity, independence and impartiality of the Judicature in accordance with the constitution and the Judicial Code of Conduct or any other law as stated by section 3 of the Judicial Code of Conduct.
According to section 8 (1) and (3) a judicial Officer should not disclose to members of the public information about pending proceedings. Judge Wood disclosed information to the defendants in the Development Bank of Zambia v. JCN Holdings Limited, Post Newspapers Limited and Mutembo Nchito 2009/HPC/0322 case about the discussion he had with Kajimanga J., his Deputy Judge in charge. This was contrary to section 8 and his oath of secrecy. This means he failed to uphold the integrity and independence of such privileged discussion.
Furthermore, that he was bias or partisan as he only disclosed information to the defendants. This came to light when he on oath admitted to the Chikopa Tribunal to have told the defendants about the confidential discussion he had with Justice Kajimanga which was a serious breach and was partisan as he never disclosed this to Development Bank of Zambia. The discussion was between two judges, Kajimanga J., and Wood J and Kajimanga’s J., charges arose from that discussion. The inescapable conclusion is that Wood J., was the one who disclosed a confidential discussion to one of the litigants (the defendants).
He communicated ex-parte in absence of Development Bank Zambia contrary to section 9 (1) of the Code. He violated section 4 of the Code by discriminating between the plaintiffs and the defendants by his Ex-parte communication as well as section 5.
Justice Wood violated section 6 and 7 of the Code which lays down the procedure for disqualification from adjudication. As determined by the Supreme Court in the Development Bank of Zambia v. JCN Holdings Limited, Post Newspapers Limited and Mutembo Nchito SCZ/8/132/2012, section 7 obliges a Judge, who is disqualified under section 6, to disclose his or her disqualification at the commencement of the proceedings. The requirement placed on a Judge by the above section to disclose a disqualification, is a mandatory requirement. This is because the Section 7(1) uses the word “shall” as opposed to “may”. The same section also mandatorily obliges the Judge to request the parties or their legal representatives to decide on whether or not to waive the disqualification. Section 7(3) makes it obligatory that the disclosure of the disqualification or the agreement to waive the disqualification should form part of the record of the proceedings. Wood J., did not request the parties to consider the issue and to put in on record. He merely allegedly surrendered the file. This is one of the issues why the Development Bank of Zambia v. JCN Holdings Limited, Post Newspapers Limited and Mutembo Nchito 2009/HPC/0322 case has been sent for re-trial as the procedure for recusal as stated above and that of transfer of cases under section 23 of the High Court Act Chapter 27 of the Laws of Zambia was not complied with.
Furthermore in the same Supreme Court judgment, it is stated on page 503, paragraph 3 that “As can be seen from section 23 of the High Court Act, which we have already reproduced in this Judgment, it is incontestable that, at any stage of the proceedings, a matter may be transferred from one High Court Judge to another High Court Judge. That where circumstances requiring a matter to be transferred from one Judge to another arise, the transfer can be initiated by the Judge himself or herself. The transfer can never, however, be instigated by a receiving Judge even if that Judge is a Judge-in-Charge.”
It is therefore an excusable that Judge Wood released the file after a mere phone conversation with Kajimanga as revealed by himself in the Chikopa Tribunal. Judge Woods had the responsibility to follow the provisions of the Code of Conducts and the law which for him to protect his office and uphold Justice by not allowing cases to slip through is fingers to cause delays and procedural impropriety.
We hope and pray that your recommendations after investigations will patch up the holes in this case to allow Justice to prevail in the current on-going Judge Chikopa Tribunal, so that the terms of reference may be amended to include Judge Woods in the same measure that has been given to the three Judges under probe.
Under your advice
CC: Minister of Justice
The Acting Chief Justice
The Speaker of the National Assembly
Law Association of Zambia