BULAWAYO High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese has described some lawyers as incompetent and unethical in the manner they prepare litigants’ cases, thereby causing miscarriage of justice.

Speaking at the official opening of the first term of the Gweru High Court circuit on Monday, Justice Makonese said some lawyers deliberately caused delays in the completion of cases by continuously making requests for postponements.

“I must also publicly make it known to all that some of the delays in the finalisation of cases particularly civil cases is caused by litigants and legal practitioners who set down cases for trial, only to postpone them on the day of trial,” Justice Makonese said.

“The reasons normally given for requests for postponements are that lawyers have just assumed agency and are not ready for trial. In other instances, litigants with hopeless cases pretend to seek time to settle the matter out of court, only to indicate that they are not amenable to a settlement.”

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He warned that judges would soon be forced to approach the Law Society of Zimbabwe to complain over the conduct of some lawyers. “It is unethical and unprofessional for a legal practitioner to appear in court unprepared. In some cases, lawyers appear in court without taking adequate instructions from their clients. This practice is not fair to the litigants and to the court. In appropriate circumstances, judges shall report cases of unethical conduct to the Law Society of Zimbabwe for appropriate action,” Justice Makonese said.

He lauded the Hwange High Court for diligently handling last year’s cases.

“At the Hwange High Court circuit, a total of 39 cases were referred for trial during the year 2019.

“Of these, 20 matters were finalised. The remaining pending cases will be handled during 2020. In general, therefore, the disposal rate of cases at Hwange High Court circuit is fairly satisfactory,” the senior judge added.