DA welcomes Radebe's transformation plans

2012-05-21 20:46

Johannesburg - Justice Minister Jeff Radebe's initiative to transform state legal services should be welcomed, the Democratic Alliance said on Monday.

"State legal services have been in a chaotic state for some time," DA MP Debbie Schafer said in a statement.

"In many cases, litigants against the state wait for years before their claims reach finalisation, by which time they are often deceased or bankrupt."

She also welcomed the plan to ensure state legal work was more equitably distributed to the private sector.

"It has been historically difficult for women and black legal practitioners to secure briefs in the larger and more complicated legal matters due to historic discrimination and the false perception that, unless you belong to a large firm you are not a good lawyer," Schafer said.

Weak political leadership

"We are, however, concerned that the minister is once again trying to address issues by means of legislation and policy documents when the real issue is the failure of management resulting from weak political leadership."

Earlier in the day, Radebe said the new policy framework sought to tackle a need for efficient, co-ordinated legal services, and to promote the values and obligations arising from the Constitution.

"[This was done] to have one set of norms and standards of the legal profession," he said in Johannesburg at a New Age briefing on the transformation of the justice system.

The policy framework was released by Radebe on Monday.

Radebe said women and previously disadvantaged individuals were being overlooked within the profession.

While the state was a large consumer of legal services in the country, state legal services were hampered by a lack of a comprehensive set of rules governing how litigation services were dispensed, acquired, managed, and monitored.

Cake not shared

"It was evident that the cake was not shared," he said.

The goal of the policies was a transformed, integrated, professional, cost-effective, and highly skilled state legal service.

A head of state legal services, or solicitor general, would be appointed as a matter of urgency, Radebe said.

When asked why this was being implemented now, Radebe said he had been in office since 2009 and that "there has been an outcry".

"The public sector must come to the party. I am confident that it can be implemented."

Radebe's announcement came amid plans to table draft legislation intended to regulate legal tariffs.

According to a report last week, Radebe revealed plans to scrap bar councils and the law society and replace them with a state-influenced body.

High costs

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

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

Radebe said state legal adviser Enver Daniels certified the draft legislation earlier that week.

In February, Radebe released a discussion document on judicial transformation.

It stated the decisions of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal would be reviewed to establish the extent to which their decisions had contributed to the reform of South African jurisprudence and law.

Draft legislation intended to make legal services affordable for ordinary South Africans by regulating tariffs would soon be tabled in Parliament.

  • Jason - 2012-05-21 21:01

    Spose they would welcome anyone who didnt throw rocks at them.

      nigel.vanysendyk - 2012-05-22 07:42

      yes, they welcome anyone that is not an intolerant barbaric animal, that thinks & wants to work together to create jobs & make SA a better place, so you are 100% correct

  • Phillip - 2012-05-21 22:05

    DA agreing with the ANC, will cause an automatic about-face by the ANC...The ruling party will think that they missed something important, that is only visible to the DA... best way to throw a spanner in the works.

      SaleƩ - 2012-05-21 22:41

      It's possible for South Africans to work together for the good of the country.

      Vince.York - 2012-05-22 06:48

      TRUE.....born out right now by the vehement commentary on the 'Youth Wage Subsidy' as they continue to loudly claim fame for it BUT yet scratch the unions backside of the wallet.

      Phillip - 2012-05-22 07:06

      Salee...that is what we all want... people working together for a better SA. Unfortunately we are so caught up in idelogical battles, the blame game, and pure greed, that the main aim of a better future is totally forgotten.

      Gcwabe.KaMavovo - 2012-05-22 07:33

      Occasionally opposing parties will agree on an idea or policy. The clashing point is always about how the policy is implemented, and I think it will again happen here.

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