New law society co-chair vows to put public first

2012-04-03 00:00

DURBAN attorney Krish Govender, who has been jointly elected co-chairperson of the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) with Polokwane attorney Jan Stemmett, believes it is important to build the confidence of the public in the legal profession.

He also views it as a priority to ensure that justice is accessible to everyone, not just those who can afford it.

Govender is the state attorney for KwaZulu-Natal and is one of the LSSA’s two representatives on the Judicial Service Commission.

He said yesterday he was honoured to have been elected co-chairperson. The position is rotated and his election is valid for a year.

Govender said there were many challenges facing the legal profession. One of the most important responsibilities for him and Stemmett will be to oversee the finalisation of the Legal Practice Bill, which has been in the pipeline for a decade. It was just months away from being ready to present to Parliament, said Govender.

The aim of the bill is to regulate the affairs of all law societies in South Africa under one national umbrella, to ensure that uniform standards and rules apply throughout the organisations governing the profession in South Africa.

“Its a big responsibility to ensure that the bill goes through smoothly and that it meets the needs of the legal profession, the state and the Department of Justice. In between are the people of South Africa who must gain the most,” he said.

Other issues on the agenda are the Competition Commission and the promotion of unity and transformation in the attorneys’ profession.

Govender served on the council of the LSSA in 1998 and on the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society council in 1999.

He was a member of the steering committee that founded and launched the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel) with former justice minister the late Dullah Omar and former Chief Justice Pius Langa.

He served as a national executive committee member for Nadel for many years, and has been its publicity secretary, general secretary and recently its vice president.

He has been involved in community, civic, political and educational bodies as an activist, and served as vice chairperson of the council of the University of Durban-Westville.

Stemmett, who specialises in the resolution of labour disputes, including mediation, arbitration and Labour Court litigation, is a partner at Polokwane firm Stemmett & Osman Inc. He has been a council member of the LSSA since 1996 and was co-chairperson for a previous term in 2001 to 2002.

He is a council member and former president of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces.

Stemmett is a member of several dispute settlement and arbitration forums and serves on the dispute resolution panels of various bargaining councils accredited by the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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