I have a matrimonial case in a primary Court and want to engage an advocate to represent me. Some people are telling me that advocates are not allowed to appear in the primary Court? Is this true?
Section 33(1) of the Magistrates’ Courts Act [Cap.11 R.E 2019] bars advocates and prosecutors from appearing or acting for a party to the proceedings in a primary Court. However, in 2021, the Parliament through the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, No.5 of 2021 amended section 33 by inserting a new subsection (4) to allow advocates and prosecutors to appear or act for parties in primary Courts where the proceedings are presided over by a resident magistrate. Therefore the right to a legal representation in primary Court is limited by qualification of the judicial officer presiding over the proceedings. Where the status of judicial officer presiding over the proceedings is a primary Court magistrate, parties to the proceedings cannot be represented by an advocate or a prosecutor. However, where the presiding magistrate is a resident magistrate, parties have the right to legal representation. Short of that, only in civil proceedings the primary Court may allow a party to be represented by a relative or a member of the household.