New judges up for the challenge

2010-05-13 00:00

TWO prominent members of the legal profession in Pietermaritzburg — Advocate Rob Griffiths, SC, and attorney David Gush — are looking forward to the challenges of their respective judicial positions which were among the country-wide new judicial appointments announced by President Jacob Zuma on May 5.

Griffiths (56) has been appointed as a judge of the Eastern Cape division sitting at Mthatha, while Gush (59) has been appointed as a judge of the Labour Court.

Both men are long-standing members of the legal profession in Pietermaritzburg.

Although born in Port Elizabeth and schooled there and Pietersburg, Florida and Krugersdorp, Gush has practised law in the capital since 1979 after graduating from the then University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg.

He is married to physiotherapist Judith. The couple have two children, Kathryn and Simon, and one grandchild.

Gush served articles of clerkship with Tomlinson Francis and Co where he became a partner. He has been with the same firm (now Tomlinson Mnguni James Inc) since 1979 through a number of name changes.

Gush is also a past president of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Commerce and Industries (now the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business) and is the chairperson of the board of trustees of the Tatham Art Gallery.

Gush has been a member of the KwaZulu- Natal Law Society since 1996 and became its president in 2004/5.

“As a member of the Law Society Council I have concentrated on areas related to pro bono [free of charge] work by attorneys, the law society libraries, and practice development and skills training, particularly the transfer of skills to newly qualified attorneys, and the provision of facilities to attorneys to enhance the transformation of the profession and access to justice,” he said.

In 2007/2008, Gush was co-chair of the Law Society of South Africa and was involved in the final drafting of the legal services transformation charter for the profession.

For the past few years, he has chaired committees­ that are actively involved in training and skills development for the Law Society of South Africa.

Griffiths, who grew up in Pietermaritzburg and matriculated at Hilton College in 1970, also completed his LLB degree at the University of Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

He is divorced with two grown-up sons and a daughter, and is involved in a relationship with a fellow advocate.

He started his legal career as a prosecutor in the Magistrate’s Court in Durban in 1976 and then became a magistrate.

After being admitted as an advocate (also in 1976), Griffiths joined the staff of the attorney general in Pietermaritzburg as a state advocate for about three months.

He went on to work for SA Mutual as a legal adviser and trainer, specialising in the administration of estates, income tax, estate duty and insurance law until he commenced practice as an advocate at the Pietermaritzburg Bar in February 1979. He practised as an advocate from that time, gaining extensive criminal and civil work experience.

He was appointed as a senior counsel on May 1, 2007.

More recently he has been involved in a number of high-profile corruption trials in Lesotho­.

Griffiths has been a member of the Society of Advocates, KwaZulu-Natal, and a member of the Bar Committee of the Pietermaritzburg Bar.

He was elected chairperson of the Pietermaritzburg Bar in 2007 and is still chairperson.

Griffiths has also served as a member of the board of the Community Chest in Pietermaritzburg and was a trustee at The Wykeham Collegiate.

For nine years, Griffiths sat as a Small Claims Court commissioner and served for a time as the bar representative on the Pietermaritzburg Small Claims Court committee.

He also, for many years, appeared in appeals for indigent people who could not afford legal representation (formerly known as Judges Certificates), and also acted as bar representative for the allocation of such matters­.

Griffiths lectured a criminal procedure course at the university in Pietermaritzburg as part-time lecturer for one year, and still assists the university by acting as its external examiner for its civil procedure exam.

He has been involved in a local initiative to clear the backlog of criminal appeals by acting as a judge pro bono.

Between July and September 2005, he co- chaired a commission of inquiry into the problems of the Abaqulusi Municipality with Durban attorney Edward Ngubane.

He has been an acting judge in both KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape since 2000, hearing both civil and criminal cases.

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