An Analysis of the law Relating to Contempt of Court and the Discretionary powers of Judges: The Zambian Experience

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Mulenga, Chishimba Yvette
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It is of great importance to ensure that the courts of law, in their dispensation of justice, are respected and their dignity and integrity maintained. Thus, there is need for the existence of laws put in place for this particular purpose. This law regulates what has come to be known as matters of contempt of court. This paper is set out to analyse the law relating to contempt of court and the discretionary powers of judges in Zambia. It was largely achieved by desk research even though in certain instances, some field research was conducted. The findings of this research were that it is not debatable that issues of contempt of court form part of the basis of the law in Zambia. However, even though the reason for the existence of this law is to protect the integrity of the courts and their officers, it is sometimes used against the principles of natural justice in that even though it is trite law that a person should only be punished after they have been given a chance to be heard, the law of contempt of court does not really accord with this principle. In fact, in Zambia, the law governing contempt of court has many flaws and this is principally because of its nature which places too much power in the hands of judges, thereby raising the chances of the same power being abused. It is the judges who identify the grounds of complaint, select the witnesses, investigate what the witnesses have to say, decide on the guilt or otherwise of the accused and pronounce the sentence. As such, the paper recommends that the law on contempt of court be adopted by judges only when there is need. There should also be strict adherence to the procedures set out in the existing laws and defences made available to contemnors.
Contempt of Court - Zambia