A SENIOR partner at Mugurungi and Kamdefwere Legal Practitioners, Moses Kamdefwere faces deregistration after a tribunal setup to hear allegations of misconduct levelled against him concluded that he acted unlawfully.
A disciplinary tribunal chaired by High Court judge, Felistus Chatukuta has established that the Harare lawyer failed to pay “promptly” US$49, 690, 39 deposited into his trust account by a client.
The Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) which was the complainant in the matter heard by the tribunal has been given up until May 28 2021 to file submissions on sentence on or before May 28 2021.
According to the judgement, Kamdefwere withheld payment of the money without lawful exercise.
He failed to produce proof that he at all times held the said money in his trust account.
Court papers show that LSZ received a complaint on October 2017 from Golden Million Engineering Limited represented by one Admire Saweto.
The company had instructed Kamdefwere to recover from Metallon Gold US$ 362, 660,73.
The full amount was recovered after litigation.
The tribunal further heard that the amount was deposited into the law firm’s account.
A total of US$301 343,73 was remitted in cash to the complainant in three instalments over a period of 18 days while an amount of US$11 626 61 was appropriated to bank charges and legal fees.
However, during the hearing, the lawyer denied allegations and went on to blame one Nyasha Mapanzure a consultant at his firm, who represented Golden Million during the time of recovery of the money.
But the tribunal said he was only hiding behind a finger.
“The respondent’s defence to the charges was clearly contrived,” said Chatukuta.
“The respondent was the senior partner and sole signatory to the account. It was therefore his sole responsibility to ensure that trust monies were remitted to the intended beneficiary.
“The outstanding balance remained unpaid five years after the full amount was paid into the firm’s trust account. This was contrary to the By-law 70E which requires that an amount due to a client must be paid within a reasonable time,” said the judge.
Chatukuta said a delay of five years could not be said to be reasonable time.
She said late payment was also contrary to the law which required money to be deposited promptly.
“It is therefore our finding that the applicant proved that the respondent’s conduct was unprofessional, dishonourable, unworthy and unbefitting of a legal practitioner.
“The applicant be and is hereby directed to file submissions on sentence on or before May 28 2021 and serve same on the respondent on or before the same date.”
The tribunal also directed that Kamdefwere may also respond before June 1 if he wishes to.