INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COURT OF MALAWI
NO. IRC 174 OF 2001
- CORAM: R. Zibelu
Counsel for the Applicant
Malijani; of Counsel for
Appearance of Counsel who also
sits at the Industrial Relations Court as a member panelist
- Whether there is an
appearance of bias
Mr. Malijani who appeared
as Counsel for the respondent also being in the employee of the
respondent company as legal counsel is
a member panelist of this
court appointed under section 66 of the Labour Relations Act. By
virtue of his appointment Mr. Malijani
became an administrative law
judge defined as; anyone, whether or not a lawyer, who is an officer
of a judicial system and who
performs judicial functions, including
an officer such as a magistrate, court commissioner or special master
Such being the case the question before the court was whether Mr.
Malijani could also appear in the proceedings at the Industrial
Relations Court as a party or to represent a party? The fear is
whether there is to be likelihood of bias Mr. Malijani being a
of the court and having to appear before his fellow members?
Chisanga of counsel representing the applicant did not have any
objection in Mr. Malijani representing the respondent in the
In fact there is no legal authority preventing a judge or an
administrative law judge from seeking legal redress in any
law. What rules of natural justice would prevent is where a member
panelist or judge sat as a judge in his own cause,
because one cannot
judge his/her own case.
There would be no
appearance of bias in a matter where a member panelist appeared
before the IRC unless he was sitting as a judge.
A member panelist
may appear personally or in a representative capacity at the IRC as
long as he/she is not sitting in the case
as an administrative law
judge. Mr. Malijani of counsel is free to represent the respondent in
decision applies to all cases involving member panelists or judicial
officers where they might be required to appear before
Relations Court (IRC) as a party or representing a party.
aggrieved by this decision has the right of appeal to the High Court
within 30 days of this decision. Appeal lies only
on matters of law
and jurisdiction and not facts: Section 65 (2) of the Labour
this 31st day of December 2007 at BLANTYRE.