New solicitor general position will drive transformation of the legal profession – Masutha

2015-05-19 18:01
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha.

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha. ( Linda Mthombeni)

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Minister of Justice Michael Masutha has announced the appointment of a solicitor general to drive transformation of the legal profession.

Masutha made the announcement at Parliament today, ahead of his budget speech in the National Assembly.

“The attorney general’s stature, powers and salary will be equal to that of a judge,” Masutha said.

“It will be his or her job to oversee the office of the state attorney. The office of the state attorney handles litigation on behalf of the state, but there isn’t a position equivalent to the heads of the National Prosecuting Authority or the Public Protector at this office,” Masutha explained.

“The position of solicitor general is essential to drive transformation in the legal profession and the judiciary, and to ensure that the office of the attorney general has the necessary power, authority and influence.”

Masutha has on various occasions been critical of the lack of transformation in the profession, and the tendency of the state and the private sector to use white, male advocates or legal teams instead of allowing previously disadvantaged legal practitioners the opportunity to test their mettle.

A consequence of this is that the bench is also transforming slowly, because black lawyers are struggling to acquire the experience necessary to be appointed as judges.

Masutha said the department of justice was currently not in the position to ensure that state litigation is awarded fairly, and so transformation is not promoted.

The establishment of a solicitor general position would enable the department to have a better oversight of the situation.

“The office of the solicitor general is aimed at creating stronger leadership in the institution to drive this transformation agenda.

“We want to consolidate state litigation, build skills and raise the level of professionalism in that office and ensure all other entities providing legal support to the state work closely with that institution,” he said.

He added that his department would urgently table amendments to the State Attorney Act in order to make the appointment of a state attorney possible.
Read more on:    michael masutha  |  transformation

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