THE Law Society of Namibia (LSN) has accused prominent lawyer Sisa Namandje of using the claim of attorney-client privilege as an excuse to evade answering questions pertaining to his potentially dubious dealings after the law society attempted to get access to his law firm’s trust account.
The LSN further noted that Namandje is looking to frustrate the law society’s investigations and that he is doing so for his own personal reasons and not necessarily with the aim of protecting his clients.
LSN Director, Retha Steinmann, in a replying affidavit further denied that she acted alone in deciding to investigate Namandje law firm, saying that she was at all material time in close contact with the council members, who she says were apprised of each and every development in the matter.
Namandje claims that the warrants to investigate the law firm’s trust account are vague in the sense that they were not clear which client would be investigated.
This, he said, would leave his clients vulnerable to exposure and intrusion and goes against attorney-client privilege.
“If his assertion of privilege was genuine, he would have complied with the law society’s request to identify the clients on whose behalf he asserts privilege so that we may approach these clients for a waiver. The law firm has failed to do so. I submit that the decision to inspect the firm’s books of accounts constitutes a decision to investigate possible unsatisfactory conduct,” Steinmann said.
According to Steinmann, the purpose of the investigation concerns the conduct of the legal practitioner himself and not the conduct of his clients, adding that the reliance on the attorney-client principle is misplaced and unfounded.
The law society is further alleging that Namandje isn’t cooperative.
Instead, he is questioning the law society’s authority to inspect his law firm.
“His uncooperativeness is easily demonstrated. In the midst of the biggest scandal this country has seen and in which the legal profession was heavily implicated, the respondent’s reaction to the law society’s notification of an inspection of his firm is to question the law society’s authority to do so. As a legal practitioner he is not only subject to the society’s authority but is obliged to submit to this authority. Instead, the respondent chose to challenge the applicant’s authority when he had absolutely no basis to do so,” Steinmann said.
The matter will be heard in the high court on Wednesday.