Lord Burnett of Maldon, Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales and the President of the Courts of England and Wales, visited the Malawi Judiciary on 2nd June, 2023. The visit started with a tour of the Principal Registry premises, particularly, the old building where he inspected the Library and the renovations being carried out at the building. Later, His Lordship the Chief Justice held a meeting with the Judge President of the Supreme Court of Appeal for Malawi Honourable Justice Chikopa, SC JA and other Supreme Court of Appeal Justices, Judges of the High Court and the Registrar. The meeting was held at the Commercial Division of the High Court.
Thereafter, Lord Burnett of Maldon paid a courtesy call on His Excellency, Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi.
He then proceeded to University of Malawi in Zomba at the School of Law, Economics and Governance, where he delivered a public lecture on, “Judicial Independence and Accountability”. The lecture was attended by senior officials from the judiciary, the justice sector at large, faculty staff and students among others. Lord Burnett of Maldon emphasized that judicial officers must be appointed on merit and that the appointment must be non-political. He also shared insights on the rule of law, moral and intellectual courage that judicial officers must have in doing their work, the shadow of the law, open justice, and the close legal heritage of Commonwealth judiciaries.
The lecture focused on judicial independence and accountability in the 21st century. He dwelt on challenges that are faced by judges across the Commonwealth and on opportunities generated by robust and responsible judiciaries. He further emphasized on the need for judiciaries to stand together both within and across their respective jurisdictions and that Judges being in positions of leadership must set the tone by cultivating a judicial culture which encourages independence, fosters collegiality, and supports individual resilience. Lord Burnett of Maldon stressed the need for judiciaries across the world to continue engaging in dialogue and exchange, sharing with and learning from one another.
In the evening of the same day, Lord Burnett hosted dinner and interacted with members of the civil society organizations in Malawi and other statutory bodies including the Malawi Law Society and Human Rights Commission. The visit by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales cemented the bonds of relationship that exist between the peoples of England and Wales and Malawi generally and their judiciaries specifically.