Team The Temple Bar, March 2018

The Advocates

 

From left: O.O Takaindisa, T. Nzombe, R. Chingwena, D. Sanhanga, W.P Mandinde and Dr. L. Uriri. Not in picture,  S. Manyangarirwa and  A. Gwagwa.

 

The Support Team

Back row rom left: 

Bright Mudhau LL.B (Hons), legal practitioner (Research Intern); Frank Mashura LL.B (Hons), legal practitioner (Research Intern); Justin Magombo, (Office and Library Clerk) and  Phillip Uriri LLB (UNISA) (Research Intern).

Front row rom left: 

Tinatsiwe Mhaka BA (Rhodes), LLB (Wits) (Research Intern); Nsai Kamiro (Front Office); Winnet Nyakabawo (Front Office) and Letshiya Jones (PA to the Head of Chambers).

Who are we?

The Temple Bar is an Inn of Court (advocates' or barristers' rooms) at the de facto independent referral Bar in Zimbabwe. It houses advocates that affiliate to the Zimbabwe Inns of Court, and are committed to the promotion of  professionalism, civility, ethics, and legal skills amongst themselves in a collegial setting through continuing education and mentoring provided by the Zimbabwe Inns of Court.  

The Zimbabwe Inns of Court is a voluntary self-regulating Bar Association recognised by the Law Society of Zimbabwe, the licensing and regulatory authority of the legal profession in Zimbabwe.

 

The Temple Bar is not a partnership. It is an association distinct and separate from the members, one of  whose object is to administer the rooms for the smooth practice of the law by individual advocates. Each advocate is his own principal, practising on his own for his/her own account. It is, however, not uncommon for advocates to collaborate in matters they are jointly briefed or in which an advocate takes on a junior. Advocates may also consult each other or share ideas where there is no apparent conflict.

 

Advocates at The Temple Bar take work strictly on referral from attorneys or Chattered Accountants in purely tax advisory matters. 

Advocate and attorney, a distinction without a difference?

Advocates (the equivalent of barristers in England) in Zimbabwe take work strictly from attorneys (the equivalent of solicitors in England). Whilst the Legal Practitioners Act has dealt away with the normative distinction between attorneys and advocates, and employs the neutral term “legal practitioner”,  the legal distinction between the two remains extant. The effect of the neutral term is the entrenchment of the equal right of audience in the superior courts. Advocates continue to practice and remain licensed on a different basis from attorneys. The Supreme Court, in Sibanda & Anor v Ochieng & Ors, said that:

In 1981, the legal profession in Zimbabwe was fused.  Prior to fusion there were two categories of legal practitioners, namely, attorneys and advocates.  The latter could only operate upon receipt of briefs by attorneys.  The former, while they freely appeared in magistrates’ courts, had no right of audience in the superior courts. The advocates were governed by the Bar Association and the Attorneys by the Law Society. Every practising legal practitioner had to be a member, or practise under the auspices of, one of these bodies.

 

The effect of the Legal Practitioners Act 1981 was that all practising lawyers were called legal practitioners. They were all endowed with the right of audience in the superior courts.  Former attorneys began to appear in the High and Supreme Courts no longer fettered by the need to brief advocates.  The former advocates chose to continue with their previous mode of practice.  They remained at Advocates Chambers and communicated to the former attorneys their intention to continue as before.  As a result, what is now known as a de facto bar emerged and is still in existence today.”

In Choto v CBZ the High Court said that:

“Where a legal practitioner obtains the services of counsel to deal with a case, the legal practitioner must pay out as a disbursement the fees charged by such counsel. …

….

It however seemed to me that the issue which was weighing in the minds of the parties before me was whether there is at law, a distinction between an “attorney” and “an advocate”, the applicant’s argument being that all legal practitioners must now charge fees in accordance with the prescribed tariff, as there is no longer a distinction.  ...

In my view however the change in terminology did not in any way affect the basic differences between the two types of legal practitioners.  The definition provision in the Act states that “another legal practitioner means a legal practitioner who is instructed by a legal practitioner not of the same association or firm of legal practitioner.”  From this perspective the Act recognizes that there are legal practitioners who represent clients by virtue of being instructed by another legal practitioner.  I am also fortified in this view by the fact that the main objective of the amendment was to avail affordable legal representation to all litigants in the High Court and Supreme Court.  Prior to the amendment only advocates had audience in the High Court and Supreme Court and this meant that the cost of litigation was very high.  The objective was therefore to place all legal practitioners on the same level without distinction in relation to their ability to appear in the superior courts and not to take away one’s right to practice as an advocate.” (Our emphasis.)

The technical and legal distinction between attorney and advocate thus subsists. Members of the de facto bar are not in partnership even where they operate from the same set of rooms. They are each a principal operating for his own account. The other sets of rooms in Zimbabwe are the Advocates Chambers, the Harare Law Chambers, The Chambers and the Advocates Chambers' (Bulawayo).

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