The High Court in Lilongwe has slapped former President Peter Mutharika and former secretary to the government Lloyd Muhara with K69.5 million legal costs over the role they played in sending Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and Justice of Appeal Edward Twea on force leave pending retirement.
The directive follows an application by the Malawi Law Society (MLS), Association of Magistrates in Malawi and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), who applied to the court to order Mutharika and Muhara to personally pay the costs.
Pronouncing the directive this morning, Lilongwe High Court Registrar Patrick Chirwa ordered the two respondents to pay K26 million to first and second applicants and K43 million to third applicant.
“I think it’s a fair decision, there was a very important point that we were raising as lawyers to say the Court should raise hourly rate from K40, 000 to K100, 000 and the Court has said no that one is for other departments of government.
“But in the end, the decision looks fair and reasonable in the circumstances of this case, the Court has made a very right decision, we are very fine with that decision,” said Patrick Mpaka, MLS vice chairperson.
Meanwhile, lawyer representing Mutharika and Muhara; Charles Mhango has expressed satisfaction with the directive saying that his clients were previously asked to pay a total cost of K170 million.
“My immediate reaction is that initially the applicants wanted the Court to order the two respondents [Mutharika and Muhara] to pay in costs in excess of K170 million, but we battled it out and the Court in its wisdom has reduced that amount to K69 million,” said Mhango.
He however said his team will map the way forward once he is instructed by his clients.
“Most of the principles seem to be solid, of course as a lawyer I need to get instruction from my client and then we see the way forward,” said Mhango.
All the costs are expected to be paid within 14 days.
The decision to send Chief Justice Nyirenda and Justice Muhara saw lawyers in the country expressing their anger and frustration to the streets in apparent protest of the executive decision.