Bogus legal aid societies on the brink

Bogus legal aid societies on the brink

HARARE, The Insurance and Pensions Commission (ipec) has directed all Legal Aid Societies to register with the Commission in a bid to protect policy holders from bogus societies.

In his 2019 budget, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube announced that all legal aid societies and medical Aid societies will now be regulated by Ipec.

However, there are several legal aid componies who do not meet the registration requirements, and thousands of policy holders with such societies may lose their hard earned premiums which they had contributed over the years.
The law society of Zimbabwe has also completely disowned them and has launched a manhunt to weed them out.
Legal aid societies have been mushrooming over the years and have not been regulated. However they have managed to outdo lawyers in their trade as they offer very low fees for their service whereas lawyers are the most expensive in the country.

The fact that they are not regulated has left many policy holder short-changed as they had nowhere to report their cases.
In the same vein he reviewed upwards prescribed asset requirements which in are way beyond the reach of many legal aid societies who fall under short term insurers.
The law society of Zimbabwe in a notice today said  it had a statuary mandate to  regulate the practice of the legal profession and its interests.
The society said it will be working with law enforcement agencies and relevant authorities with two criminal convictions having   been secured.
“The law does not recognise legal aid societies and companies as lined providers of legal services.
The law society has the register of all registered and licensed firms or institutions that are allowed to provide legal services for fees and those that offer free services.
Legal aid societies and companies are not among those allowed to give legal services to members of the public for a fee.
The law society would like to urge the members of the public to desist firm obtaining legal  advice and services from all legal aid societies  that have not been  licensed as  legal insurance providers.
Only lawyers with valid practicing certificate are allowed to practice law.

The legal aid societies may appear to be convenient expedient and cheaper but in reality are greatly  prejudicing  unsuspecting members of the public.,” said  law society of Zimbabwe.
Legal aid societies offer as little as US$6 for legal aid covers.
Meanwhile Ipec said the legal aid societies are required to have submitted their applications for registration by January   31 2019.

“Ipec has noted that there are some entities that are illegally conducting    insurance business as legal aid societies  without being registered with the commission Interms of  section 9  or section 13 of the insurance ACT (CHAPTER 24: 07) as the case maybe.
Operating   an insurance business such as legal aid societies without being registered by the insurance and pensions commission   is a punishable offence in terms of f section   7 or section   12 of the insurance act  as the case maybe.

“The commission therefore advises all entities illegally operating   as legal aid societies to submit their applications for registration with the commission by 31 January 2019,” said Ipec.
The regulator said regulatory action will be taken    against entities that fail to comply   with this requirement   by the set deadline.
“By the same notice the commission wishes to advise the public against engaging entities that are legally   consisting   insurance business.
Members of the public are encouraged to exercise caution   and request to see the insurer’s certificate of registration before purchasing any insurance policy.” added Ipec.