Semenya: Controversy a result of palace coup agitators

2013-02-17 10:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Advocate Ishmael Semenya, chairman of the General Council of the Bar, said there was “no doubt that there are elements of the practice of law which government has the power to regulate”.

Semenya said the Bar’s position on the bill was not that it was perfect, but rather that it supported the idea of regulation and a unified legal practice.

“At the moment we have the General Council of the Bar, the Independent Association of Advocates, National Forum of Advocates, as well as various individuals who go to court without any kind of in-service training.

“What the act intends to do is regulate all those structures,” he said.

Semenya points out that section 22 of the Constitution allows for any trade, occupation or profession to be regulated by law.

“If it is governance (of the legal profession), government has no role to play.

“If it is regulation, government does have a role to play,” he said.

Semenya said that there was nothing in the bill that prevented voluntary associations of attorneys or advocates from continuing to exist.

“Currently, we have regulatory capacity, which is properly not the province of practitioners.”

He hastens to add that “the bill will not pass constitutional muster if it doesn’t result in an independent legal profession”.

Semenya said the Bar did not support the provision in the bill that allows the minister to dissolve the Legal Practice Council, because it was plainly unconstitutional.

He also said the Bar was concerned about the provisions relating to a transitional council.

Referring to the fact that the minister may appoint three people to the council, Semenya said the profession cannot claim to look after issues of public interest to the exclusion of publicly elected officials.

Semenya said Smuts’ contention that the bill paid “lip service” to transformation of the legal profession was “patently incorrect”.

“I think the Johannesburg Bar had 400 or 500 pupilage applications, but it could only take just under 100 of those.”

Semenya concedes that “to get everyone inside the house” may cost more money, but he said the system as it currently stood was “restrictive”.

He said the bar would attempt to press its case with the portfolio committee of justice and constitutional development when hearings start next week.

Asked about the divisions caused in the legal profession, Semenya said he thought there were “agitators for a palace coup”.

“They want the status quo to remain and they want the profession to remain outside any regulation, but that will not solve the problem of a bunch of fragmented practitioners,” said Semenya.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.