THE Law Society of Namibia (LSN) argued in the high court today that it is mandated and empowered to define and uphold discipline among its members, including the Sisa Namandje law firm.
The law society’s lawyer, Uno Katjipuka-Sibolile was arguing in a matter in which the regulatory body is seeking to investigate prominent lawyer, Sisa Namandje and his law firm for money laundering.
Namandje is challenging the legalities on whether or not the law society has authority to investigate his law firm’s books.
According to Katjipuka-Sibolile, the LSN wants to gain access to the law firm’s financial records to ensure that the money in the trust account is what is reflected in the books as is required by the law.
“Where legal practitioners don’t follow the rules, the law society is empowered to take action,” she said.
It is further her argument that the fact that Namandje is arguing on the attorney-client confidentiality privileges was raised not in the clients’ favour, but is an attempt to frustrate the inspection of his records by the regulatory body.
The investigation seeks to, amongst others, see whether the law firm complied with the requirements of keeping a trust account.
Namandje’s legal team, consisting of Advocate Raymond Heathcote, on instructions by Kadhila Amoomo, argued that the Al Jazeera documentary that showed Namandje meeting with undercover journalists disguised as potential investors, contains “a narration of the journalists’ own assumptions and conclusions and parts of video recordings.”
The allegations contained therein constitute inadmissible hearsay evidence, liable to be struck, Namandje’s team is arguing.
“Even if the documentary was to be produced, it would need to be properly authenticated by the evidence of persons who recorded it or was present when it was recorded, confirming that the recording is what it purports to be, original, and that it is accurate. In this case, it is relied on to convince the court that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the respondents are guilty of money laundering, a very serious allegation indeed and that they may have acted in contravention of the Act and that a warrant is necessary. The applicant cannot, in these circumstances, rely on hearsay or the opinion of a deponent who relies on a video recording which has not been placed before court, nor has been properly authenticated,” Namandje’s lawyers argued.
The law society on the other hand is arguing that it does not rely on the Al Jazeera documentary to demonstrate the guilt of the respondents, being Namandje and his law firm, as it is presented as circumstantial evidence.
The authentication was thus unnecessary, court documents show.
The matter continues before judge Herman Oosthuizen.