Legal Practitioners Act
- Commenced on 22 May 1981
- [This is the version of this document at 31 December 2016 and includes any amendments published up to 31 December 2017.]
- [Note: This version of the Act was revised and consolidated by the Law Development Commission of Zimbabwe]
Part I – Preliminary
1. Short titleThis Act may be cited as the Legal Practitioners Act [Chapter 27:07].
Part II – Register and registration
3. Register of Legal Practitioners
4. Application for registration
6. Application for deletion from Register
7. Exemption certificate
Part III – Privileges, restrictions and offences in connection with practice
8. Privileges of registered legal practitioners
9. Offences by unqualified persons
10. Prohibition against unqualified persons preparing certain instruments
11. Prohibition against practice by or in association with unqualified persons
12. Prohibition against practice without practising certificateNo registered legal practitioner shall practise, whether as such or as a notary public or conveyancer, directly or indirectly, by himself or in partnership or association with any other person, except in accordance with the terms and conditions of a valid practising certificate issued to him:Provided that this section shall not apply to—
12A. Pre-practice examinations and training
Part IV – Trust accounts
13. Opening of trust accounts
14. Books of account
15. Trust account moneys excluded from insolvency or attachmentAn amount standing to the credit of a trust account opened in terms of section thirteen by a registered legal practitioner shall—
16. Control of operation of trust account
17. Orders as to costsThe High Court shall have power to order that—
18. Saving of liability of bank, etc., in relation to trust accountA bank, building society or other institution at which a registered legal practitioner keeps a trust account shall not, by reason only of the name or style by which the account is distinguished, be deemed to have knowledge that the registered legal practitioner is not entitled absolutely to all moneys paid or credited to that account:Provided that nothing in this section contained shall relieve the bank, building society or other institution from any liability or obligation under which it would be apart from this Act.
19. Limitation of set-off, etc., against trust accountNotwithstanding anything in section eighteen contained, a bank, building society or other institution at which a registered legal practitioner keeps a trust account shall not, in respect of any liability of the registered legal practitioner to that bank, building society or other institution which is not a liability arising out of or in connection with that account, have or obtain any recourse or right by way of set-off, counterclaim, charge or otherwise against moneys standing to the credit of that account.
20. Saving of set-off, etc., against trust accountNothing in this Part contained shall be construed so as to take away or affect a just claim, lien, counterclaim, right of set-off or charge of any kind which a registered legal practitioner may at common law or in terms of an enactment have against or upon moneys held or received by him on account of another person.
21. Council of the Society may require certified balance of trust accountA bank, building society or other institution at which a registered legal practitioner keeps a trust account shall, whenever so required by the Council of the Society, furnish to the Council of the Society a signed certificate of balance certifying the amount, if any, standing to the credit or debit of that trust account in that bank, building society or other institution as at such date or dates as may be specified by the Council of the Society.
22. Offences in relation to trust accountsA registered legal practitioner who contravenes any provision of this Part shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level eight or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment.[subsection amended by section 4 of Act 22 of 2001.]
Part IVA – Contingency fee arrangement[Part IVA inserted by section 4 of Act 10 of 2000]
22A. Interpretation in Part IVAIn this Part—“contingency fee arrangement” means an agreement entered into between a registered legal practitioner and his client in terms of which no fee, other than court fees or disbursements, are payable by the client for the legal practitioner’s services in connection with any legal proceedings unless the proceedings result in a decision or settlement in the client’s favour;“normal fee”, in relation to a legal practitioner, means the fee, excluding disbursements, that he would have charged his client had there been no contingency fee arrangement.
22B. Legal practitioners may enter into contingency fee arrangementsSubject to this Part and to regulations, a registered legal practitioner may enter into a contingency fee arrangement with a client regarding the services he provides the client in connection with such legal proceedings as may be prescribed in regulations.
22C. Form of contingency fee arrangement
22D. Non-disclosure of contingency fee arrangementThe fact that a contingency fee arrangement has been concluded shall not be revealed to the court that hears the legal proceedings concerned.
22E. Maximum fees payable under contingency fee arrangementNo fees payable in terms of a contingency fee arrangement shall exceed—
22F. Review of contingency fee arrangement or fee payable
Part V – Discipline
23. Unprofessional, dishonourable or unworthy conduct
24. Disciplinary Tribunal
25. Evidence of unprofessional, dishonourable or unworthy conduct from courtsSubject to the Courts and Adjudicating Authorities (Publicity Restriction) Act [Chapter 7:04], if after the termination of any proceedings before a court—
25A. Prohibition of operation of trust accountsUpon application made by the Council of the Society and upon good cause shown, the Disciplinary Tribunal may—
26. Council of the Society to refer cases to Disciplinary Tribunal
26A. Suspension from practice
27. Taking of evidence by Disciplinary Tribunal
28. Powers of Disciplinary Tribunal
29. Appeals from decisions of Disciplinary Tribunal
30. Suspension in insolvency
31. Registrar to make appropriate entry in Register and to publish order of Disciplinary Tribunal
32. Restoration to Register
Part VI – Council for Legal Education
33. Interpretation in Part VIIn this Part—“committee” means a committee of the Council for Legal Education appointed in terms of section forty-one;“member” means a member of the Council for Legal Education;“professional examination” means an examination set by the Council for Legal Education in the exercise of its powers under paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section thirty-five.
34. Council for Legal EducationThere is hereby established a council, to be known as the Council for Legal Education, which shall be a body corporate capable of suing and being sued in its corporate name and, subject to this Act, of performing all acts that bodies corporate may by law perform.
35. Functions and powers of Council for Legal Education
36. Membership of Council for Legal Education
37. Disqualifications for membership of Council for Legal EducationA person shall not be appointed as a member, and no person shall be qualified to hold office as a member, if—
38. Terms and conditions of office of members of Council for Legal Education
39. Vacation of office by members of Council for Legal Education
40. Meetings and procedure of Council for Legal Education
41. Committees of Council for Legal Education
42. Minutes of proceedings of Council for Legal Education and committees
43. Secretary and other staff of Council for Legal EducationThe Minister, with the approval of the Public Service Commission, may assign as secretary and members of staff of the Council for Legal Education such persons employed in his Ministry as will enable the Council properly to carry out its functions in terms of this Act.
44. Funds of Council for Legal EducationThe funds of the Council for Legal Education shall consist of—
45. Accounts of Council for Legal Education
46. Validity of decisions and acts of Council for Legal Education and committeesNo decision or act of the Council for Legal Education or any committee shall be invalid solely because, at the time the decision was taken or the act was done or authorized—
47. Execution of instruments by Council for Legal EducationAny agreement, certificate, notification or instrument approved by the Council for Legal Education may be entered into or executed by any person generally or specially authorized by the Council for that purpose.
48. Exemption from liability of Council for Legal Education or its members, employees or agentsNeither the Council for Legal Education nor any member, employee or agent thereof shall be liable for any loss, injury or damage sustained by a person as a result of the bona fide exercise or performance by or on behalf of the Council of a function conferred or imposed upon the Council by or in terms of this Act:Provided that this section shall not be construed so as to prevent a person from recovering compensation for any such loss, injury or damage caused by negligence or breach of contract.
49. Rules made by Council for Legal Education
49A. Appeals against decisions of Council for Legal Education
Part VII – Law Society of Zimbabwe
50. Interpretation in Part VIIIn this Part—“member” means a member of the Society but does not include an honorary member;“councillor” means a member of the Council of the Society.
51. Law Society of Zimbabwe
52. Membership of Society
53. Objects and powersThe objects and powers of the Society shall be—
54. Constitution of Council of the Society
55. Management and control of Society by Council of the Society
56. Absence of councillor from Zimbabwe or failure to attend meetings of Council of the SocietyWhere without special leave of the Council of the Society any elected councillor is absent from Zimbabwe for a continuous period of six months or has failed to attend four consecutive meetings of the Council of the Society, the Council of the Society shall declare his seat to be vacant.
57. Casual vacanciesAny casual vacancy in the office of president or vice-president or councillor shall be filled at as early a date as is practicable.
58. Casual vacancy not to invalidate acts of Council of the SocietySubject to by-laws respecting a quorum at Council meetings, a casual vacancy in the Council shall not invalidate any act or deed of the Council of the Society.
59. Representative of councillor to attend meetings of council
60. Annual general meetings
61. Special general meetingsA special general meeting of members shall be held when convoked—
62. Quorum at general meetingsSubject to section seventy-two, unless otherwise provided by by-laws, the quorum necessary for the transaction of the business of any annual or special general meeting shall be ten members personally present.
63. Society may make by-laws
Part VIII – Law Society Compensation Fund
64. Law Society Compensation FundThe Law Society Compensation Fund established in terms of section three of the Law Society Compensation Fund Act [Chapter 222 of 1974] shall, on and after the fixed date, continue in existence and shall be vested in and administered by the Board of Trustees in accordance with this Act.
65. Assets of Compensation FundThe Compensation Fund shall consist of—
66. Expenditure from Compensation Fund
67. Audit of Compensation FundThe accounts of the Compensation Fund shall be audited at least once in every year by an auditor, registered as a public auditor, in terms of the Public Accountants and Auditors Act [Chapter 27:12] who shall be appointed by the Board of Trustees with the approval of the Minister.
68. Law Society Compensation Fund Trustees
69. Functions and powers of Board of Trustees
70. Compensation for loss through dishonesty of registered legal practitioner
71. Subrogation of Board of Trustees
72. Quorum of Council and Society in respect of business of Compensation FundFor the transaction of any business in relation to the Compensation Fund, the quorum at a meeting of—
Part IX – Practising certificates
74. Applications for practising certificates
75. Issue, renewal and refusal of practising certificates
76. Period of validity of practising certificates
77. Terms and conditions of practising certificates
78. Withdrawal of practising certificate
79. Appeals from decisions of Council of the Society
Part X – General
80. Existing practitioners to be registered as notaries public and conveyancersThe Registrar shall enter in the Register as a notary public and conveyancer the name of every person who, immediately before the 30th December, 1991, was registered as a legal practitioner and, on and after that date, every such person shall be deemed, for so long as his name remains so entered, to have been duly registered as a notary public and conveyancer in terms of this Act.
81. Audit certificates
82. Right of State and certain parastatal employees to appear in court
83. Non-recovery of feeNo fee in respect of anything done in contravention of any provision of this Act shall be recovered in any action or proceeding by the person who has acted in contravention of such provision.
85. Special provisions relating to legal practitioner employed by State
86. Oaths of loyalty and of officeA person who applies for registration as a legal practitioner shall, before being registered, take the oaths of loyalty and of office specified in Schedule I to the Constitution.
87. Regulatory power
History of this document
31 December 2016 this version
22 May 1981