By A Correspondent- A well known Harare lawyer, Charles Chinyama is facing imminent de-registration after being found guilty of six counts of unethical conduct for fleecing clients of money running into thousands of United States dollars, plunging the name of the learned profession into disrepute.
Chinyama, a senior partner at Chinyama and Partners Legal Practitioners, is just one of many attorneys fleecing large sums from their clients, given the number of lawyers that have so far been deleted from the practicing lawyers registry.
His conviction early this month comes after the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) hauled the lawyer before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (LPDT) on seven counts of improper conduct.
He was accused of a string of charges including acting in an improper and unseemly manner by having a ‘questionable’ relationship with a client who was the estranged wife of the complainant in the course of divorce proceedings between the couple.
Chinyama also failed to account to client (two counts) and to properly perform a client’s mandate and taking advantage of such client, failure to issue receipts and to account for funds held in trust, and placing himself in a position of conflict with client’s interests.
In addition, Chinyama failed to issue receipts and to account for funds held in trust and failing to account for debts recovered on client’s behalf; and raising a false bill for legal fees and forging an acknowledgment of debt by client in support of legal action against such client for recover of fees.
After a fully contested hearing, the LPDT found him guilty of six counts and absolved him of the seventh charge.
In one of the counts involving complainant Zhou Haixi, the disciplinary authority found that Haixi engaged the services of Chinyama and deposited US$70 000 into the trust account that he operated.
When Haixi wrote to the respondent on 29 July 2016 enquiring on the status of the funds, there was no response.
Chinyama was also instructed to recover debts in the sums of US$20 000 and US$4 000 on two separate occasions.
Despite having recovered the debts, the lawyer failed to account for the amounts. Instead, Chinyama then billed Haixi for US$132 790, which bill was contested by the complainant.
Both the LSZ and Chinyama have since been directed to make submissions before the LPDT on aggravation and mitigation.