Thursday, 30 June 2022

TOP LAWYER DE-REGISTERED

SENIOR lawyer, James Magodora, has been de-registered after he was found guilty of mishandling trust funds from several clients.

He was deemed unprofessional, dishonourable and unworthy of holding the office by a tribunal.

Magodora (55), who joined the profession in 1994, faced charges of contravening Section 23(1)(d) of the Legal Practitioners Act Chapter (27:07) by withholding payments of trust funds, without lawful cause.

The lawyer had received US$16 484 on behalf of one of his clients in anticipation of sale of an immovable property. The parties failed to agree on certain terms and the transaction collapsed.

The buyer asked for a refund, which Magodora failed to remit in 2016. He only paid back in October 2018, claiming his client had used some of the funds.

Magodora was also accused of failing to process the payment, therefore, contravening by-laws 70 E and 70 F and 65 (a) for not responding to communication by the Law Society.

On the second count, the legal practitioner was accused of receiving US$11 682, on behalf of his clients, who won a labour dispute against their employer.

He only remitted US$4 050 leaving a balance of US$7 632. Magodora is also believed to have snubbed letters from the Law Society, asking him to explain his actions.

In his defence, Magodora claimed he had compensated the first complainant in full and, in addition, purchased a plot which the complainant was now using.

The legal practitioner claimed he refunded the second complainant, who later withdrew his complaint.

He apologised for failure to respond to communication from the Law Society claiming he was traumatised by the whole process.

However, Justice Felistas Chatukuta ruled that Magodora failed to advance exceptional circumstances warranting his actions.

“We take note of the mitigating factors submitted regarding Magodora’s personal circumstances.

“We are, however, of the view that the circumstances are nothing out of the ordinary.

“However, the acts of misconduct that placed him before the Tribunal are serious and go to the core of the legal profession.

“As rightly submitted by the Law Society, the seniority of Magodora in his firm, and in the profession, weighs against mitigating factors,” reads the finding.

Justice Chatukunya then ordered for Magodora’s name to be struck off the Register of Legal Practitioners.

“It is accordingly ordered that Magodora’s name be deleted from the Register of Legal Practitioners, Notaries, Public and Conveyancers. Magodora be and is hereby ordered to pay all the expenses incurred by the Law Society in connection with these proceedings,” ruled the judge. H Metro

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