To many attorneys, the Legal Practice Bill - which at the time of writing was still awaiting assent by the President - has been the subject of political and academic debate for a number of years. These discussions do not appear to have filtered down to the average attorney, whose focus has been on running his or her practice on the basis that not much will change. Yes, there will be one national regulatory body for all legal practitioners - attorneys, advocates who take referral instructions, advocates who will take instructions direct from the public and candidate legal practitioners - and there will be a Legal Services Ombud to whom members of the public can turn when they are dissatisfied with the decisions made by the Legal Practice Council.
ProBono.Org strongly supports the recent announcement by Legal Aid South Africa that they will be launching a national pro bono scheme, as well as the recent press release issued by the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) encouraging attorneys to contact their local law societies to be assigned pro bono work.
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has been merged with the Correctional Services department to form the Department of Justice and Correctional Services. President Jacob Zuma said that this move was necessary to 'improve efficiency in the criminal justice system'.
At a meeting in May 2014, the National LLB Task Team indicated that until the standards for the LLB are published and finalised, entry to the profession still remains the four-year undergraduate LLB for current and prospective students.
South African law firms are reporting some of the highest average hours of pro bono work per fee earner globally. This was revealed at the global launch of Thomson Reuters Foundation's Trust-Law Index of Pro Bono on 28 May 2014. The index, the first of its kind, analyses the pro bono work undertaken by law firms on a country-by-country basis and identifies success stories and global trends.
The Law Society of South Africa's Legal Education and Development department launched a 'Making a Difference' campaign (MAD) at its ten centres of the School for Legal Practice as part of the School's social responsibility programme.
The Southern African Development Community Lawyers Association (SADC LA) has recommended that the Electoral Commission (IEC) implements continuous voter education as well as training for electoral officials.
The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) submitted its election observation mission report to the Electoral Commission (IEC) at the end of May 2014. Generally, based on the over-all observations of its attorney observers, the LSSA concluded that the elections were free and fair. IEC voting staff were friendly and helpful and most observers found the organisation of the stations and the handling of issues by IEC officials to be positive, with most issues duly resolved by the voting agents. Most voting stations appeared to be run efficiently and effectively and voters were in good spirits, with a calm and peaceful atmosphere reported at the majority of the stations.
Leading on from the article in this column in 2014 (May) DR 23 'Is your firm at risk for claims by clients or third parties?' - this discussion seeks to give practical examples of things that can and do go wrong and some of the causes of professional indemnity (PI) claims.
To be successful, all law firms need to be well managed. The functions and responsibilities of a managing partner or an executive management committee derive not only from the structures and policies of the firm, but should be based on sound business principles. However, effective management is not enough. To achieve significant sustainable growth, a firm also requires leadership.
South Africa is a signatory to, among others, the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (UN Convention), the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1969 Organisation of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee problems in Africa (OAU Convention). To give effect to its obligations under these and other relevant international law instruments, principles and standards relating to refugees, in 1998 South Africa enacted the Refugees Act 130 of 1998 (Refugees Act), which was later amended by the Refugees Amendment Act 33 of 2008 (Refugees Amendment Act). Section 1 of the Refugees Act defines 'asylum seeker' as 'a person who is seeking recognition as a refugee in the Republic', and 'refugee' as 'any person who has been granted asylum in terms of this Act'. 'Asylum' under this section denotes 'refugee status recognised in terms of this Act'.
Inextricably intertwined with the very fashionable concept of open justice is the question of whether contempt of court, ex facie curiae, shall now become abrogated by disuse. It has, after all, been held (by the Constitutional Court no less), that freedom of expression presupposes the right by the public to evaluate and criticise our justice system and our courts.
The Supreme Court of Appeal, has recently, in the matter of Malcolm v Premier, Western Cape Government 2014 (3) SA 177 (SCA) conclusively ruled on the effect of the reduction of the age of majority from 21 to 18 years by virtue of s 17 of the Children's Act 38 of 2005 on the interpretation of s 13(1)(a) of the Prescription Act 68 of 1969. The plaintiff, a minor at the time that his claim for damages arose (prior to the coming into operation on 1 July 2007 of s 17 of the Children's Act) and was rendered a major ex lege on 1 July 2007, sought to institute action more than one year thereafter.
In 2011 De Rebus ran a feature on the state of the legal process outsourcing (LPO) industry in South Africa (2011 (Nov) DR 18). The article shed light on the status of the industry in global terms and the role South African LPO providers are playing in capturing market share. As South Africa is predominantly an outsourcing destination (rather than the originator), it may come as a surprise to many readers that the LPO model is, in fact, taking off among local enterprises as an alternative to traditional legal service frameworks.