Plans for improved state legal services

2012-05-21 12:35
Johannesburg - Justice Minister Jeff Radebe on Monday unveiled an initiative to transform state legal services.

"[This was done] to have one set of norms and standards of the legal profession," he said in Johannesburg at a briefing on the transformation of the justice system.

The new policies aimed to address the need for efficient, co-ordinated legal services, and to promote the values and obligations arising from the Constitution.

Radebe said women and previously disadvantaged individuals were being overlooked within the profession.

He said while the state was a large consumer of legal services in the country, state legal services were hampered by a lack of a comprehensive set of rules governing how litigation services are dispensed, acquired, managed, and monitored.

"It was evident that the cake was not shared," he said.

The goal of the policies was a transformed, integrated, professional, cost-effective, and highly-skilled state legal service.

A head of state legal services, or solicitor general, would be appointed as a matter of urgency, Radebe said.

Outcry

When asked why this was being implemented now, Radebe said he had been in office since 2009 and that "there has been an outcry".

"The public sector must come to the party. I am confident that it can be implemented," Radebe said.

The announcement came amid plans to table draft legislation intended to regulate legal tariffs.

According to a report last week Radebe revealed plans to scrap bar councils and the law society and replace them with a state-influenced body.

On Thursday, Nonkululeko Sindane, director general of justice and constitutional development, said in Parliament that the focus of the legislation would ultimately be the consumers of legal services.

"The current system prevents broader access because of the high costs of lawyers and other legal representatives. The draft legislation will at least give us a starting point to deal with sticking points, so that more people have access to the law," Sindane said.

The draft legislation will make provision for a single national legal practitioners' board for advocates and lawyers.

Radebe said state legal adviser Enver Daniels certified the draft legislation earlier that week.

In February Radebe released a discussion document on judicial transformation. It stated the decisions of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal would be reviewed to establish the extent to which their decisions had contributed to the reform of South African jurisprudence and law.

Draft legislation intended to make legal services affordable for ordinary South Africans by regulating tariffs, would soon be tabled in Parliament.
- SAPA

Read more on:    jeff radebe  |  nonkululeko sindane  |  judiciary  |  legislation
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