Legal Practitioners may soon be required to offer free legal services to members of the public, as President Hage Geingob presented a proposal for mandatory pro bono legal aid before various legal professionals today.
Geingob made the proposal at the official 2023 legal year opening today, saying that it will expand access to justice and will aid citizens who are unable to cover legal costs.
The president also called on the Ministry of Justice in consultation with the Legal fraternity to come up with proposals that will improve the broader provision of legal aid, with the prohibitive factor to access justice, cited as inequality and high legal costs, emphasizing that the Legal fraternity ought to regularly review its fees and evaluate the affordability thereof within the confines of its governance framework.
Furthermore, Geingob highlighted that a lack of discipline in the legal profession is an emerging trend, saying that it is worrisome, considering that the Legal profession is a highly respected profession.
“Given that society holds the legal profession in high esteem, members are therefore reminded to remain above approach at all times. I thus urge the Chief Justice, the Minister, the Prosecutor General and all Practitioners to ensure that high standards of discipline and professionalism are observed at all times,” he stressed.
Geingob further called on the legal fraternity to endeavour in ensuring that justice is not only a reality for a few but a reality for each and every Namibian.
“We should strive not only to ensure a swift delivery of justice but also a fair delivery of justice so that Namibians from all walks of life can have faith in a justice system that caters to all, cares for all and offers protection to all. In so doing, we will take yet another step forward in our march towards becoming a truly prosperous nation”, Geingob maintained.
Additionally, he implored the Judiciary to explore various alternative dispute settlement mechanisms to alleviate the caseload in the court roll and to mitigate against the prohibitive legal costs which he says is a big stumbling block to the majority of Namibians having reasonable access to justice.
Geingob however commended the judiciary’s court-guided mediation process that has been established to mitigate the challenge.
“I urge the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary to urgently address the need for improved accessibility to legal services for persons with disabilities through the incorporation of braille and sign language services” the President said.