The judiciary has issued strict directives to all courts in the country to kick out advocates who appear in courts without valid practicing certificates.
In a short but authoritative letter copied to magistrates, registrars and justices, the Chief Registrar Sarah Langa Siu said there has been rampant impersonation by persons who present themselves a advocates in courts which must stop.
“My attention has been drawn to the fact that there is rampant holding out of persons as advocates in the courts, whereas they are not. This is therefore to request you to be vigilant and demand for practicing certificates from the advocates who appear in court” The brief statement of notice reads.
The law requires every practicing advocate to obtain a practicing certificate from the Uganda Law Council, and any advocate found not in possession of a valid practicing certificate or whose certificate has been suspended or cancelled, commits professional misconduct and the Law Council or any person may make a complaint to the Disciplinary Committee in respect of the misconduct.
In a separate notice issued on 12th March by the Commercial Court, advocates have been advised to always move with valid practicing certificates to avoid delays in processing of court business and eventualities that may arise from non-compliance.
Some lawyers this website consulted over the matter affirmed that majority have not had their certificates renewed meaning that the directive will lock many out.
The lawyers however blame the Law Council for delays in issuance of certificates of compliance to advocates and the chambers to which they are attached. This process which involves inspection of the chambers, they say, keeps the advocates on pending list of approvals even when they have applied and met other necessary obligations.
However, the Uganda Law Society president Ms Pheona Wall said the Law Council completed countrywide inspection of chambers by February 28th only that some advocates have not fulfilled other requirements that warrant issuance of practicing certificates.
She said the move by the judiciary is also meant to weed out masqueraders in the legal profession who hang out around courts and key government offices to fleece unsuspecting customers while posing as advocates. She said the practice is rampant especially at the Land Offices, URSB and in Courts.
She noted that the Law Society is engaging the Judiciary to have their members given a grace period to be able to submit the necessary requirements and get certificates.
The notice from the judiciary also refers affected advocates to the judiciary website for any information they may require on the matter.
Requirements prior to issuance of a practicing certificate include a copy of application form to Registrar Uganda Law Council, proof of payment of subscription fee Uganda Law Society, recommendation from a Senior Practicing Advocate, Certificate of Registration as enrolled Advocate, and a filled up form of profession Good conduct attach all requirements thereon.
Others are; Receipt for proof of payment of prescribed fees, a Bank statement, Payment of license fees, Passport photographs (2 copies) and Certificate of no objection from Uganda Law society.