News24

Legal profession bill coming: Radebe

2011-11-03 16:23

Cape Town - Legislation intended to transform and restructure the legal profession will soon be tabled in Parliament, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Thursday.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question, he said the legal profession was still not representative of the country's demographics.

Entry into the profession was, in many instances, determined by outdated, unnecessary and overly restrictive prescripts.

Access to legal services, especially by the poor, was limited.

The bill sought to correct these shortcomings by uniting the legal profession and regulating it by means of a single statute.

Radebe said an SA Legal Practice Council, which would be elected largely by members of the profession, would put in place norms and standards for all legal practitioners.

Envisaged regional or provincial structures would deal largely with operational issues.

A single code of practice for legal practitioners was also envisaged.

The regulatory structures, however, "leave space" for the recognition of differences between advocates and attorneys and the way they operated.

Affordable

"It might be said that the bill democratises the regulatory structures which, in turn, will pave the way in order to take the transformation agenda to its logical conclusion," Radebe said.

The bill aimed to ensure that legal services were affordable and within the reach of the citizenry.

While seeking to attain these objectives the bill recognised the independence of the legal profession.

It sought to strengthen this independence but also to ensure accountability by the legal profession to the public.

It provided for obligatory community service, not only by candidate legal practitioners, but also by practising lawyers, advocates and attorneys.

This would contribute enormously to access to justice, he said.

The bill provided for an office of legal services ombud to protect and promote the interests of consumers of legal services.

The bill had been submitted to the chief state law adviser for certification.

"It is hoped that the certification process will be finalised soon, where-after the bill will be introduced into Parliament.

"I am anxious that the bill be introduced into Parliament before the close of the 2011 session ... and that deliberations on the bill commence in earnest at the start of the 2012 parliamentary session," Radebe said.

Comments
  • Servaas - 2011-11-03 16:38

    "Legislation intended to transform and restructure" AA here we come.. "In a written reply to a parliamentary question, he said the legal profession was still not representative of the country's demographics." And they say we are all equal in SA..

  • Cracker - 2011-11-03 16:43

    Legal fees are fat too high. Control all legal fees rigorously and keep them down. Do away with the requirement that written statements must be confirmed as truthful in front of a commissioner or oaths for admission in legal proceedings. It is a waste of everyone's time and effort. Rather just require an alternative in the document (statement) in the form of an acknowledgment by the author of the document that he/she is aware that the document (statement) might be used in legal proceedings and that it would constitute an offence if it contains (deliberate) lies. Make it easier for all. Why on earth we always have to queue at a police station for somebody who will in any event not apply the rules (to our relief because it is silly and time consuming, and totally worthless) is beyond common sense. Nobody cares about the so-called solemn nature of the process.

      John - 2011-11-03 16:45

      "Nobody cares about the so-called solemn nature of the process." Until it isn't there anymore.

      Cracker - 2011-11-03 23:00

      Must be the fat cat lawyers responsible for the thumbs downs. Would have thought that they at least would have appreciate the reality of the ridiculous commissioner or oaths practice we are being subjected to. As for legal costs, look, lawyers are nto naturally more clever than ther rest of society. They are in certain respects a lot more stupid and definitely a huge lot more arrogant. The real worthy ones amonng them are the ones that are able through their natural aptitude AND training plus experience to evaluate evidence and the legal rules. They are in the minority. A real risk right now for the rest of society. But still far better than a jury system. Some mess. But still worth the state regulating the exhorbitant legal fees. Even for the sake of the blood suckers in the legal system before they price (prize?) our legal system out of existence with their arrogance and leechlike habits.

      markplstephens - 2011-11-03 23:24

      Cracker you clearly love the sound of your own voice. are you this opinionated about all topics or do you just particularly like lawyer jokes? Remember, there are cheaper lawyers out there, you just pay more for the good ones. Newly qualified lawyers usually charge +-R300 an hour. honestly if I had studied for a minimum of 5 years and had a mountain of debt to pay back, i certainly wouldnt work for less.

      Cracker - 2011-11-04 00:23

      @ markpistephens You will notice that I only comment on issues that I happen to know quite a lot about and that I consider can do now and then with some original and/or common sense ideas. Is it clear to you?

  • Vicker - 2011-11-03 16:45

    "Entry into the profession was, in many instances, determined by outdated, unnecessary and overly restrictive prescripts." In other words, they plan to do away with edukashun as a prerequisite. Drop the bar (no pun intended), so more can make it over. Screw standards, they are over-valued...

  • Atholl - 2011-11-03 21:19

    Another rushed Bill. The legal profession does have laws that regulate its conduct. Case law acts as a reference, to guide unique situations - and there have been [self-regulatory] bodies [societies] to act as a 'protective ombudsman' for 100 years. .. then again, these bodies are are controlled by humans. ..... Law is a Dirty Game ...

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