Shire Times has learnt that the Legal Aid Bureau is experiencing operational difficulties due to delays in amending the legal aid act, especially with the increased workload in smaller courts. In 2021, the bureau proposed amending the act to permit paralegals to represent clients in magistrate courts, citing a shortage of lawyers to handle all cases.
According to Legal Aid Public Relations Officer John Namalenga Jnr, the delay in amending the law has resulted in a slowdown in case handling. The proposal faced opposition from the Malawi Law Society, which expressed concerns about potential compromises to legal standards in the country.
Currently, only lawyers are authorized to provide legal representation in court. While the bureau initially had 25 lawyers, it has since increased its legal staff to 40, yet it registered 3,450 cases this year.