Ethics before making money - Mogoeng tells lawyers

2016-08-18 14:12
The Chief Justice of South Africa is the most senior judge of the Constitutional Court and head of the judiciary of South Africa Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: Lucky Nxumalo

The Chief Justice of South Africa is the most senior judge of the Constitutional Court and head of the judiciary of South Africa Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: Lucky Nxumalo

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Cape Town - Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Thursday said lawyers and the legal profession are best placed to root out corrupt practices in the country and on the continent.

Mogoeng was speaking at the 17th SADC Lawyers Association Conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

He spent much of his speech appealing to the legal fraternity to deal with corruption both inside the legal system, and out.

"We as lawyers brief corruption cases every day," he told the audience. "What are you going to do with your law to ensure it has the teeth to cut corruption out of existence?

"If there are people who have the potential and capacity to root out corruption, it is lawyers."

'Life is not all about money'

The chief justice said that making money was not a bad thing, but should never be at the expense of good, ethical practice.

"I believe in making money, it's good to make money. But life is not all about money. There are far too important things.

"Maybe the reason I never made much money in practice was because I refused to work with rich clients who wanted me to use my 'experience and wisdom' to get them out of trouble.

"I would say: 'You're looking for a crooked lawyer, I'm not one of them.'

"Maybe it's time to adopt that attitude again, for the sake of prosperity and our legal integrity."

The conference was organised by the regional SADC Lawyers Association, and the South African Law Society (Sals).

It only the second time the annual event was hosted in South Africa in the previous 17 years, and is attended by delegates from across the Southern African region.

Mogoeng also spoke about the challenges of limited women representation in the profession, the problems that the economy and immigration pose, and how trade and investment law could invigorate both.

He closed his speech by returning to his main theme.

"I know that we are principled people. I'm appealing for a principle-centred crafting of the law.

"This has been the problem of Africa. Wonderful policies, wonderful laws and institutions, but never really intended to be implemented by some of us.

"Let us stick to maintaining what the legal profession was meant to be. It is an honour to be a lawyer."

Read more on:    mogoeng mogoeng  |  corruption  |  judiciary
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