Zambia enacts law to formally recognise paralegals – Legal Aid Act No. 1 of 2021
The Zambian government has passed the legal aid law to recognise the role paralegals play in the justice system. Paralegals are required to register with the Legal Aid Board (LAB) in order to practice as either paralegal levels l, ll or lll. Paralegals will be expected to follow the quality standards, observe professional ethics and adhere to the disciplinary process.
The Legal Aid Act No. 1 of 2021 was signed off by the President on 29th March 2021. The new law widens the scope of legal aid service provisions by introducing more delivery models of legal aid so as to include both primary and secondary legal aid. Both the Judicare and Pro bono models will be used in the provision of legal aid services.
The Act also formally recognises CSOs and university law clinics in the provision of legal aid, specifies their roles and responsibilities, and requires them to get accredited at the Legal Aid Board.
The Act further recognises legal assistants who are law first degree holders and will be employed by CSOs and law firms for purposes of providing legal aid services.
This law raises the bar in the administration of justice and makes Zambia a model country on the continent and hopefully, its implementation will further improve the country’s human rights standing as more marginalized and vulnerable persons in Zambia will access justice.
By Phillip Sabuni
Paralegal Alliance Network (PAN)
Lusaka – Zambia