High legal costs in the spotlight

2011-04-05 17:40

Johannesburg - High legal costs have come under the spotlight during Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interviews of prospective judges in Cape Town, the SABC reported on Tuesday.

The JSC is sitting at the Cape Town International Convention Centre this week to interview candidates for 17 vacancies in the country's high courts.

Chief Justice, Sandile Ngcobo, has expressed concern that high costs prevent poor people from accessing the judicial system.

A candidate for one of two positions in the Supreme Court of Appeal, KwaZulu-Natal Judge Malcom Wallis, said case management and pre-trial conferences can prevent postponements which lead to escalating costs.

Four candidates have been shortlisted for the Appeal Court posts.

  • Achmed - 2011-04-05 18:11

    It is not only getting to trial that is costly. It is also the wait after trial for a result that add costs and time to the process. In SA it is common to take anything from 6 months to a year to hand down judgements. The poor person waiting is faced with huge legal costs which the members of the law profession want up front and this negatively impacts the oppertunity of the average / poor person to get any form of justice. I know because after 6 years I now look at being forced to abandon seeking for justice.

  • ArtGee - 2011-04-05 18:18

    I took a company to court over and unpaid bill of R67 000-00, back in 2006. Todate the legal costs exceed R50 000-00, which they have to pay as per agreement...R10 000-00 for an Attorney(payable upfront) to APPEAR in court, even if the case gets postponed... thats ROBBERY!!! Legal ROBBERY!

      Achmed - 2011-04-05 18:44

      When you evtually get a judgement unfortunately your problems are not over. Trying to collect on a judgement is the same nightmare. An unpaid bill of R39000 is now sitting, with costs etc, at R132000 and the sheriff refuses to execute a warrant of execution despite a specific court order and direct instructions from the Sheriffs Board of SA. The time factor and the associated costs make it impossible for the average man against a corrupt and inefficient system.

      Theo van Schalkwyk - 2011-04-05 19:11

      I don't see how its robbery. you are asking a professional to deliver a service, if the case is postponed why shouldn't the attorney be paid? does he not have staff, rent and telephones to pay.

      Achmed - 2011-04-05 19:28

      @Theo. Of cause if it is a "real" postponement there is not a problem and I agree the attorney should be paid. However the latest trent amongst the attorneys is solely to create delays and postponements. I quote an attorney from a prominent lawfirm: "I don't mind delays as my fees are gauranteed and I can bill more, this has been a profitable case for me".

      DeonL - 2011-04-06 08:52

      You should be able to get all your money back, as well as your legal costs. Attorney's are like any other business and have overheads. If you want to win you have to have a good case and a good attorney.

      Achmed - 2011-04-06 10:28

      @DeonL. I beg to differ. Most Courts have tariffs at which costs are allocated. There is a huge difference between these tariffs and the fees attorneys charge. Yes ypu can get attorney own client costs but that is rare and seldom awarded in cases of the average citizen. However the problem in most cases is to get to the point that you get your money back, at which stage a large number of people had given up because they could not pay to get to that point. In short ir is like "lemurianguestlodge" Said "The legal system is available to those with money. God help all others."

  • lemurianguestlodge - 2011-04-05 18:21

    The legal system is available to those with money. God help all others.

      DeonL - 2011-04-06 08:56

      The poor / man in the street can also make use of the legal system, for instance maintanance and interdicts, you only need to wait for a few hours to see someone at the court.

  • Colin Dovey - 2011-04-05 18:47

    Most people that I know have scant respect for Lawyers and Attorneys. Their ONLY motivation is money. The client is stone last. I know a number of people who pulled out because of the FACT that MONEY is their God. Not a love of helping people. But my cynicism is probably wasted - the medical profession can also be accused of the same thing - interesting to read that medical and hospital fees in the US have tripled, with NO concomitant improvement in the state of health in the general populace! How can one measure the Legal fraternity? Especially when the likes of the alleged drug dealers got off today because of a failure in the line of evidence. Also, where are the PROFESSIONAL teachers? - and so it goes on....

      Madelane - 2011-04-06 09:45

      Indeed Colin....we live in a society where even 'volunteers' want to be your comments are not cynicism but merely acute observation.

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