Law Society/IPEC goes after unregistered legal aid societies

Law Society/IPEC goes after unregistered legal aid societies

Staff writer

HARARE, The Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) and Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) of Zimbabwe are collaborating with the police in an effort to weed out illegal aid societies amid indications that despite their enormous numbers they are not registered with the regulator.

In a joint statement, LSZ and Ipec said a number of these entities have already been convicted for contravening the Legal Practitioners Act and The Insurance Act.

LSZ and Ipec in the statement said whilst legal aid societies carry on insurance business and therefore must be registered as insurers , Ipec noted that to date it had not registered any legal aid society to offer legal insurance.

“In the same note, the LSZ and IPEC advises that legal aid societies are not allowed to provide legal service for a fee as they ate not licensed law firms’ .any legal aid society that offers or purports to offer legal services for fee is in contravention of the Legal Practitioners Act. In all cases that LSZ and IPEC have investigated, it has been noted that most of the Legal Aid Societies work directly with some members of the legal profession.

The Legal Practitioner’s Act prohibits the act of practicing in association with unqualified persons which include sharing, dividing professional fees with an unregistered person. Such an act amounts to professional misconduct,” read the statement.

There has been mushrooming of legal aid societies in Zimbabwe over the past years purporting to offer reasonable charges to legal service in the face of rising costs of accessing legal services.

Past observations by Insurance 24 show that a number of people have fallen prey to some of these societies as they have failed to deliver service.

This has been largely due to the fact that when a case arises in most instances they would have to hire a lawyer at a fee which has also been a challenge as they would then fail to settle those fees.

By virtue of being unregistered, it has resulted in many clients failing to get justice for their cases or get refunds for their contributions.