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Lawyers criticise awarding of King’s Counsel

should be clear criteria for appointment of advocates to the status of King’s
Counsel,” said one of the lawyers.
Law Society should stand up against this practice that is not understandable to
legal practitioners,” he said.
is most displeasing when even the clear Legal Practitioner’s Act is not
lawyers complained that the Act plainly states that only advocates qualify to
receive the honour of King’s Counsel but attorneys have been appointed.
Act says the King may “confer the honour and dignity of King’s Counsel to
advocates who have rendered distinguished services in the law practice in the
Courts of Lesotho”.
person who has been appointed as King’s Counsel shall practice exclusively as
an advocate and may have the assist­ance of junior counsel in his work,” reads
part of the Act.

complained that two of the appointees, Tšabo Matooane and Justice Teboho
Moiloa, “are well known attorneys and therefore do not qualify for the
conferment of the King’s Counsel.”

they qualify, why can’t an experienced attorney like Molefi Ntlhoki be honoured
with the same title?” asked the lawyer.

said he was not bitter that he has not been given the title but shared the
sentiments with fellow lawyers who say the criteria followed in selecting those
who will be appointed as King’s Counsel leaves room for abuse.
law says it is the Chief Justice who has the prerogative to recommend the King
to confer the title of King’s Counsel to advocates but does not give the Chief
Justice guidelines on how to do that,” Ntlhoki said.
example, there are experienced advocates like Zwelakhe Mda who has contributed
immensely to the development of law but he is not considered for the honour,”
he said.
has been president of the Law Society for eight consecutive years and his input
is well known. Why doesn’t he qualify for the honour?”
Ntlhoki said the law is
clear that only advocates qualify for the honour of King’s Counsel but “if the
Chief Justice felt that attorneys do qualify for this year’s conferment why am
I not qualified with my 32 years of service?
said he qualified for the honour since 1982 when he became the solicitor
general, which is now called attorney general, because the law says the holder
of that position should be King’s Counsel.

“The moment I was appointed solicitor general, which later
changed to attorney general, I was supposed to be automatically appointed
King’s Counsel,” he said.
The Act says the first law officer of the crown, who is
the attorney general, “shall automatically receive the honour and dignity of
King’s Counsel on appointment”.
Ntlhoki has been a co-editor of Lesotho Law Reports and
contributed in Contemporary of Family Law, written by a retired judge
Mathanzima Maqutu King’s Counsel.
Advocate Mda declined to comment, saying it would appear
as if he is complaining because he has not been given the title.

Ntlhoki and Mda led the campaign last year against the
conferment of the King’s Counsel title on the Director of Public Prosecution
(DPP), Leaba Thetsane, saying he had not been admitted as an advocate.

They lost the case on appeal after the Court of Appeal
said Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla could not have told a lie when he said he
was the one who admitted Thetsane as an advocate in the 1980s.

Ntlhoki and Mda have also accused the Chief Justice of
underperformance in the press last year.

“Perhaps we are being punished for the things we said
about the Chief Justice while we were in the leadership of the Law Society,” he
Mda was the president and Ntlhoki his deputy. The Law Society president, Monaheng Rasekoai, said the
Chief Justice asked the society to submit names of the people it felt qualified
for the title and they sent 10 names.
“The Chief Justice, using his powers given to him by the
law, chose the people he felt qualified and advised the King to confer the
honour of King’s Counsel on them,” Rasekoai said.
“Out of the 10 names we had submitted, he chose only two,”
he said.
Rasekoai said the appointment of attorneys as King’s Counsel
requires them to officially withdraw their names from the roll of attorneys.
“His Lordship Moiloa and other attorneys, being
experienced lawyers, I do not have doubts that they were aware of that and
acted accordingly,” he said.
Rasekoai said the Law Society is pushing for a law that
will remove the distinction between attorneys and advocates.
present difference between attorneys and advocates is working to the detriment
of advocates,” he said.  

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