The year 2012 saw government negotiating out of court payments in a number of cases most of which bordered on unfair dismissals, termination of contracts and unlawful dentition.
While most of the payments were shrouded in secrecy, it is estimated that the bill runs in the region of K2 billion.
The reason why 2012 looked like the busiest of years in as far as settling matters out of court was concerned was directly linked to the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika in April.
As a cleaning up process, President Joyce Banda – who succeeded Mutharika in a constitutional order - replaced several top officials in key government institutions who were hired by the Mutharika regime. These include Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director Alex Nampota, Reserve Bank Governor Perks Ligoya, Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhitho, Secretary to the Treasury Joseph Mwanamveka, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Director General Bright Malopa and Malawi Revenue Authority Commissioner General Lloyd Muhara.
Chief Immigration Officer Elvis Thodi was also booted out about two months before the expiry of his contract as was Former Chief Executive of Admarc Charles Matabwa.
Clerk of Parliament Matilda Katopola was also removed briefly before she was later controversially re-instated. She has, however, refused to continue on her post and is suing government for 'constructive dismissal'.
Katopola is pursuing the case at Industrial Relations Court where she wants government to compensate her with money amounting to K900 million to carter for what would have been her salaries, benefits, and retirement package calculated up to 2030 when she would have retired.
The highest known out of court settlement involved Nampota who carted home over K70 million as compensation for his removal from office before the expiry of his contract.
Nampota's lawyers are said to have made several demands from the government before they settled for the compensation of over K70 million. The exact details of Nampota's golden handshake have not been made public.
"Only a few people were part to this discussion and these include the (former) Attorney General and Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara, (former) Solicitor General Anthony Kamanga and Chief Secretary to government Bright Msaka," said a source privy to the discussions.
Nampota has since been replaced by Justice Rezine Mzikamanda.
In August government committed itself to pay K20 million in damages for false imprisonment to five men arrested alongside Kasambara in January this year on kidnapping charges. These are Brian Magoya, Arthur Chikankheni, Ali Kaka, Mayamiko Kadango and Patrick Gadama.
This out of court payment was agreed in a consent order dated July 30, 2012 signed by a lawyer from Ralph and Arnolds Associates, then Attorney General and Justice Minister Kasambara and deputy Registrar of the High Court Nyakwawa Usiwausiwa.
The other case where government is likely going to pay out millions of kwacha is that of the former Vice-President Cassim Chilumpha and parliamentarian Yusuf Matumula who the state was accusing of plotting to assassinate the late Mutharika.
Director of Public Prosecution Bruno Kalemba has since indicated that the charges may be dropped.
Chilumpha, now an MP for Nkhota Kota South, was arrested in 2006 while still vice-president alongside businessman-cum-politician Matumula who is now Mangochi South MP.
The two want compensation from the government for wrongful imprisonment.
Three years ago businessman Rashid Nembo was awarded K8.5 million in compensation by the court after he was wrongly accused in the same matter.
Already, government has been losing a lot of money in the case where it hired a British QC Anthony Barry. The British barrister has since written the office of the Director of Public Prosecution demanding £158, 222.22 (about K79 million) as legal fees and other costs.