DPP slammed for ‘forum shopping’

The Constitutional Court has bashed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for deliberately avoiding the Lilongwe High Court and filing the elections case at Blantyre Court with hope of getting a favourable outcome in Blantyre.
The Constitutional Court yesterday reprimanded the DPP over its conduct as the court delivered its ruling in the case in which the DPP was seeking the nullification of the 2020 Fresh Presidential Elections on the basis that four Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners were appointed illegally.

Reading the final part of the ruling, Justice Sylvester Kalembera said the court got the impression that what happened in the case before it is forum shopping – a practice where litigants avoid a court of competent jurisdiction which is nearer and take the matter to a rather distant court.

According to the Constitutional Court, the matter was already disposed of by the High Court in Lilongwe – which was hearing Malawi Congress Party (MCP) vs President of Malawi – where the court ruled that four MEC commissioners were appointed illegally by former President Peter Mutharika since DPP was supposed to have three commissioners.

Kalembera also noted that the interested parties in MCP vs President of Republic of Malawi did not appeal.

“Instead, the claimant (DPP) herein commenced proceedings on the same issues at the Principal Registry in Blantyre which culminated into this Constitutional referral.

“We reiterate our finding that this matter is an appeal in disguise or an attempt to have the matter re-ligated. In order to have audience before the registry, the claimant suppressed the fact that these issues had already been disposed of by MCP vs President of Republic of Malawi.

“The conduct of the claimant was forum shopping in our view as it was tantamount to fishing for a favourable outcome in another forum.

“The claimant deliberately avoided the Lilongwe Registry with hope of getting a favourable outcome in Blantyre,” said Kalembera.

The court also faulted the DPP for avoiding an appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeal and instead choosing to take the same issues before the High Court.

The court then urged the Registrars of courts to diligently scrutinise originating process of cases and use the laws which empower them to reject some cases.

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