Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman has said there is need for strategic measures to address the regional imbalance in availability of advocates in the country to allow more Tanzanians to access legal services.
The CJ made the remarks in Dar es Salaam at a ceremony to admit legal professionals into the roll of advocates. The admission and enrollment of 618 new advocates brings to 901 the number of lawyers admitted as advocates this year.
He said it was unhealthy to allow some Tanzanians to feel that advocates were not accessible to them, insisting that Tanganyika Law Society should consider and implement strategic measures to address the regional imbalance of advocates in the country.
He said the country has a small number of legal practitioners due to lack of qualified lawyers. He said while the country’s population was estimated at 42 million, there were only 3,000 enrolled advocates.
Chief Justice Chande said of the total the estimate is that there might be less than 1,000 advocates in full-time practice who offer legal representation on a day-to-day basis.
“The presence of advocates is largely unbalanced; while some regions do not have even a single advocate available, about 70 percent of all fulltime legal practitioners are based in Dar es Salaam,” he said.
According to the CJ, the legal representation for the poor and the marginalised is far from satisfactory.
He said there was only one advocate practicing in Lindi region, two in Kigoma and only one Legal Aid Provider, NOLA with one advocate.
Similarly two advocates are based in Sumbawanga, four in Mara five in Njombe, six in Tabora, nine are respectively stationed in Tanga and Kagera regions.
Moreover, he said it appears that the newly established regions of Geita, Simiyu and Katavi have no locally based advocates.
“Your academic achievement is one half of the battle. Now something else is on line: your ethics, integrity, honesty, competence, independent judgments, diligence and ultimately, success as a distinguished advocate. To succeed you (advocates) need to factor in continued legal education as you enter professional life,” CJ insisted.
For his part, Attorney General Frederick Werema said the idea of making lawyers who want to become magistrates pass through the law school will help to sharpen professionalism.
He said there were thoughts that the Law School should only be compulsory for people who want to practice law due to high fees.
“According to my opinion it is right …but we shall need to discuss with teachers, employers and advocates,” Werema said.
He added: “Those who want to be employed by the government as advocates and magistrates must go to Law School and pass,” he said.
He however mentioned lack of professionalism and failure to observe rules governing courts in providing justice as among the reasons behind the delay of cases in courts.