What is customary law?

Customary law relates to the principles applicable under various customs for instance in succession and inheritance matters as well as customary land matters.

The firms approach.

A professor of law at the University of Malawi, Chancellor College law school, Professor Fidelis Kanyongolo has described Malawi’s legal system as being “characterised by pluralism, meaning the co-existence of civil and customary law.” By civil law, he was referring to Acts of Parliament, court decisions and subsidiary legislation made under the Acts of parliament. The constitution of Malawi expressly recognises customary law as law in Malawi hence it is essential that we understand and be able to apply it.

With one of our senior partners as the head of Practical Legal Studies at the University of Malawi, Chancellor College Law School where a course on customary law is offered and with our lawyers having had training in customary law, we have the academic and practical competence to handle any issues arising from there.

The majority of cases that we deal with in this area are usually done pro bono because we recognize that the majority of Malawians are governed by customary law. Recognizing further that these such individuals usually cannot afford legal services, we usually handle these cases pro bono i.e. at no fee or cost to the clients as part of our corporate social responsibility.

Customary law may seem unimportant to corporations and financial institutions. It however is because it regulates that majority of persons in Malawi and is especially important when dealing with customary land which also composes the majority of land in Malawi. Our services in this area thus include:

  • Advising clients on how to procure customary land
  • Advising and litigating on chieftaincy issues
  • Advising and litigating on customary land issues
  • Claiming compensation for arbitrary expropriations of customary land


Notable matters

  • We litigated on the chieftaincy of… all the way to the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal
  • We advised a corporation on the acquisition of customary land
  • We advised a client on the customary law of…