New law will regulate lawyers' tariffs

2012-05-18 12:24

Johannesburg - Draft legislation intended to make legal services affordable for ordinary South Africans by regulating tariffs, will soon be tabled in Parliament, Beeld reported on Friday.

Nonkululeko Sindane, director general of justice and constitutional development, said in Parliament on Thursday 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."

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

Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe said state legal adviser Enver Daniels certified the draft legislation earlier this week.

"Discussions will be held with the existing bodies to finalise decisions about the transfer of employees and assets," Daniels told Beeld.

  • lmapheto - 2012-05-18 12:40

    Minister Radebe and your team, legal advice and service is at a very personal level and please dont try and make it a public service...there is a lot to do in the Juditiary than to disadvantage entreprenuers (attorneys etc) for instance transformation issues is tops inclucive of gender equality in the male dominant arena...RAF led to many law firms soon to batle as soon as the legislation gets into operation by 2014 and now you targeting tarriffs? Explain further

      Gordon - 2012-05-18 13:19

      I think this idea has potential. Having dealt with a law firm who quoted +-R450 to do a piece of work, and then to send a bill for +-R5000 for replying to emails asking if they've actually done anything, etc shows how unaffordable and a rip-off some of these places are. Refusing to pay the escalated fees or calling the above action unprofessional results in a threat of being taken to court for defamation, so we end up paying as court costs could be ten times as much. Lawyers have made their bed by allowing firms like the above to operate.

      TaniaSandraSteyn - 2012-05-19 01:09

      Agreed Gordon. Same here. Unscrupulous and under-regulated.

  • Jannie - 2012-05-18 12:41

    this is a rather communist way of doing things.. soon salaries will be capped, doctors will all work for state hospitals, and we will all be equal... equally poor, sraping the barrel for food, while government ministers and cronies, live in luxury, opressing the masses so they can feed their hunger for Dom Perignon and Caviar... Enslave the masses and you have the power.... lets all be equal, equally enslaved.

      Philip - 2012-05-18 12:46

      this has already started.....

      TaniaSandraSteyn - 2012-05-19 01:12

      Not happy, Leonard. I fear lawyers more than government. You swing towards the money, which makes it almost impossible for a normal SA person to challenge anyone lawfully.

  • Solly - 2012-05-18 12:43

    Ja the legal profession is under serious attack will be left with nothing to eat jerr!

  • Philip - 2012-05-18 12:45

    FFS make rates and taxes affordable, regulate the government services, leave free enterprise?

  • John - 2012-05-18 12:46

    Lol! I see this being fought tooth and nail all the way to the Constitutional Court. How would lawyers be able to rip off (steal) the Road Accident Fund? But then, why bother with lawyers when you just have the NPA head in your pocket and can have whatever charges withdrawn at your whim. The e-toll farce cost us tax payers millions in legal fees because the nincompoops of SANRAL tried to railroad legislation through.

  • Jannie - 2012-05-18 12:52

    1.Secrecy Bill 2.Land Reform Act 3.E-tolling 4.changes to the constitution 5.Banning private Schools 6.Nationalising of healthcare - 7.BBEE 8.More taxes 9.nationalising mines.. i could go on, but this list reads like a real "rooi-gevaar" hit list. The only problem is, that where any of these lovely initiatives took place in the world... the result has been a total and utter F!@2# up! Now you neo-african socialists, ( that secretly embrace good ol capitalism) explain how you are going to make it work ... this time. to the poor masses: stop cupping your hands for a handout, and get busy fixing this country, thats right! get up off your ass and instead of waiting for your next grant cheque, go and start something small, and start earning a living.. A FREE LUNCH HS NEVER WORKED, and WILL NEVER WORK.

  • Lynn - 2012-05-18 12:53

    By all means make it affordable for all South Africans but capping fees - not so sure that's going to offer a solution - lawyers won't be as diligent maybe? On the other hand, the legal profession in many cases (alongside the private medical professions) charge ludicrously high fees!

      TaniaSandraSteyn - 2012-05-19 01:15

      I prefer the American model, to an extent. Rather have more clients, who deserve to be heard, and take a fair cut.

  • Nick - 2012-05-18 12:54

    Stand by for the next 'brain drain' !

  • Jannie - 2012-05-18 13:01

    ANC Agenda's 101. The goal: STAY IN POWER NO MATTER WHAT THE COST. the method: 1.Not to bother too much with Education. Uneducated folk are easier to b.S and to keep them voting for you. 2.Piss off the Whiteys that have the brains and money and influence so they leave ( they are of course a threat) 3.Nationalise EVERYTHING, the only reason they havent done it yet is $$$$ 4.Use Communist idealogy to basically make all equal, equally poor and equally uneducated, equally powerless. 5.Not worry too much about crime, its anyway the plebs that have to deal with it. 6.Using Social initiatives as window dressing, just enough to say.. "hey we are trying to improve south africa" BS. BEE and other initiatives have done nothing except making the ANC and they tjommies richer.

  • Henk - 2012-05-18 13:02

    the only thing they will do is force you to sign an extra contract stating you will be liable for all costs. similar to what doctors are doing and similar to the way they are stealing from thirdparty claims currently. i call it steal as it is nothing else!!

  • Malcolm - 2012-05-18 13:08

    Step by step the ANC marches us steadily towards communism (and inevitably collapse)

  • - 2012-05-18 13:39

    so they're attacking us now. this is ludicrous. there is the legal aid board which caters for people who cannot afford lawyers. Wits University has a law clinic which assists people who cannot afford - and probably many other insitutions. point is there are enough resources to cater for all citizens. this is prejudicial to legal practitioners and should be declared unconstitutional. law is a private practice, not some form of state entity. what's happening in this country, huh??!!!

      TaniaSandraSteyn - 2012-05-19 01:25

      Don't agree, Tshepo, and speaking from experience. If you earn more than R5000 a month, you don't qualify for legal aid. Which means that if you decide to defend your own rights, and the lawyer is 'tired' you may lose your livelihood and your property. Very few people have a R10 000 lying around to defend themselves against debtors, illegal firing, defaulting lessees, etc. Most lawyers are happy to write letters. That's it.

  • Michael - 2012-05-18 13:57

    Let's be honest - lawyers portraying themselves as entrepeneurs is like Cosatu portraying themselves as capitalists. For me, the problem is not so much the fees charged, as the fact that the law favours the wealthy who can afford to bring and maintain a legal case. Instead of prescribing fees, why not rather prescribe that when a case is brought to court, the legal fees for both parties are capped based on a simple affordability test for the least wealthy party (say 25% of total assets). This is already a consumer principle, for example, when banks have to grant loans. As an example, say I need to pursue legal action against a bank, they will invariably win as they can afford many lawyers and it pays them to delay, whereas I, as an individual, cannot. However, if the rule was that the case cannot exceed (25% x R1.5m net asset value of individual) = R375,000 then that would be the maximum amount that the bank can spend on the case, and the maximum amount that I can spend. Cases would be concluded more quickly, lawyers would have no incentive to drag out cases in order to earn fees, court backlogs would diminish, and all (rich and poor) would ACTUALLY be equal before the law. This would level the playing field, and would come down to the best lawyer, not to has the most money. Comments?

      Mlu - 2012-05-18 14:32

      Brilliant idea

      TaniaSandraSteyn - 2012-05-19 01:35

      I would agree to 25% of net income per year, not assets. I may be paying a bond on a R1.25 Million house, but it belongs to the bank until I pay it off. Therefore it shouldn't feature in the reckoning.

  • Murechen - 2012-05-18 14:21

    Judging by the amount of times the state has been sued, I think that they need it regulated fees more than the average joe.

  • Vuyo - 2012-05-18 15:04

    Very good , did you know that a lawyer can be charged by the professional body for undercharging .

      Andre - 2012-05-18 15:27

      They should change that rule.

  • Andre - 2012-05-18 15:27

    There is truth in the joke. What do you call 5000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea - a good start. Fact is, most people that need a lawyer, get ripped of by them, and at the end, are off worse after the proceedings. I do understand that a lawyer needs to make money, but I really do not want to pay your monthly rental. And the legal aid associations, care less than the milkman about your problems. So lets get some professionals to do a service. How about a community year for lawyers after their studies?

  • ec.van.niekerk - 2012-05-18 19:37

    Ok so doctor can bill what they want ... dentist can bill what they want ... optometrist can bill what they want but God forbid a attorney have to beg and get regulated by stupid politics to work for free ... that just sucks ...

      TaniaSandraSteyn - 2012-05-19 01:42

      And farmers? (Swear word): van Niekerk, wake up. It's the first time you have been placed under the spotlight. I can't afford your services. Not having a medical aid, none of the above either. You don't have to work for free, just don't be ridiculous with you charges. Make a change - be the first lawyer willing to work for the people. It would be a refreshing change.

  • sk.malatsi - 2012-05-20 15:00

    i thought the legal aid board was made for those who cant afford an attorney. with all due respect ...this is total bull

  • Kelly - 2012-05-21 13:33

    All this negative remarks about lawyers - HELLO - why do lawyers have work - because of stupid people who do stupid things and put themselves into stupid situations that need a lawyer to get themselves out of a stupid situation they have put themselves into - now lawyers are sharks - no lawyers will also have work thanks to stupid people out there

  • Bernard - 2012-05-21 13:34

    About time too, what about regulating the fees of the entire medical profession & fraternity next!!!

  • fizdola - 2012-05-22 14:20

    Minister Radebe we hope that the transfomation of the legal system services will be a success so that undergraduate qualified national legal assistance will get access to find jobs in the legal department as this you said in the budget speech it is an outcry indeed it is sir,we will appriciate if this will benefit us and the country in general

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