Society in general and the legal profession in particular, are not lacking in strong female role models.
Recently, however, serious concern has been raised by the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) and other organisations at the unwarranted and scurrilous attacks that have been levelled against Public Protector, advocate Thuli Madonsela, particularly after the release of her report 'Secure in Comfort', and Pretoria High Court Judge Thokozile Masipa following her judgment in the Oscar Pistorius matter (see 22 of this issue). One wonders whether the same level of criticism and insensitive personal comment would have been generated had the incumbents been male?
Stakeholders have urged heads of state and government of Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states to reconsider their decision to suspend the SADC Tribunal. They have also urged them to reconsider their decision to adopt a new protocol.
The South African chapter of the International Association of Women Judges (SAC-IAWJ) held its national conference from 8 to 10 August 2014 at the University of Pretoria. The SAC-IAWJ was also celebrating its ten-year anniversary. The theme of the conference was 'reshaping women's participation for gender equality in the South African judiciary.'
The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) held an information communication technology (ICT) session on 15 August. The aim of the strategic session was to develop a holistic approach to ICT in the legal profession by looking at the interests of the profession.
Shaun Barns has come up tops in the 2013 Ismail Mahomed Law Reform Essay Competition. This was announced at the awards ceremony held by the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) in Centurion on 5 September 2014. The ceremony also commemorated the ten-year existence of the competition.
Opening the 15th conference of the SADC Lawyers Association (SADC LA) at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe in August, the outgoing President of the SADC LA, Zambian lawyer Kondwa Sakala-Chibiya said the conference theme of 'Strengthening the Rule of Law and Good Governance in the SADC Region: A Call for Transparent and Accountable Leadership' was relevant at a time when many Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries were making efforts to create laws and institutions that promote transparency and accountability, while at the same time, making efforts to connect citizens with their governments. 'There can be no transparent and accountable leadership without the people of our respective countries holding our leaders to account. It is incumbent on all of us to participate in the governance of our countries to ensure that we get the leaders we deserve,' she said.
At its annual general meeting following the conference in Zimbabe, the SADC Lawyers Association (SADC LA) adopted draft SADC Minimum Standard Guidelines for the Treatment and Management of Detainees. These have been made available to member law societies and Bar associations.
LSSA raises grave concern about scurrilous attacks on Public Protector and Judge Masipa
LSSA calls for representation for attorneys and advocates on new Legal Aid South Africa Board
Tshepo Shabangu to represent LSSA at IBA
LEAD launches course for women lawyers in leadership
LEAD launches pilot workshop on writing for the media and law journals
In terms of s 1(1) of the Institution of Legal Proceedings Against Certain Organs of State Act 40 of 2002 (the Act) a 'debt' means 'any debt arising from any cause of action -
(a) which arises from delictual, contractual or any other liability, including a cause of action which relates to or arises from any -
i. act preformed under or in terms of any law; or
ii. omission to do anything which should have been done under or in terms of any law; and
(b) for which an organ of state is liable for payment of damages, whether such debt became due before or after the fixed date'.
Many taxpayers would have received an sms informing them that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has issued an assessment on them, or that it has issued some notice to them, and that they can find these documents on the e-filing system.
The future of the courts is greatly dependent on technology and how technology can improve their functioning.
According to Jeff Aresty ('State Courts and the Transformation to Virtual Courts' Litigation Spring 2013 vol 39(2) 50) there are three general categories of changes in courtroom technology:
There are the technologies that legal representatives use to present evidence and arguments.
The existence of electronic documents has fundamentally changed the discovery process.
Lawyers can use new technology outside the courtroom to start their cases, maintain their cases and get word out about their cases. E-filing, social media and legal research have transformed the traditional work of lawyers.
The introduction of the Child Justice Act 75 of 2008 (the Act) set new standards for the protection of the child offender by establishing the Child Justice Court. Flowing from the juvenile justice reforms is the principle of restorative justice entrenched by the Act in the criminal justice system with respect to children who are in conflict with the law. One of the primary objects of the Act articulated in s 2(c), is to provide special treatment of children in the justice system. It is designed to break the cycle of crime and promote safe communities by encouraging re-socialisation and re-education programmes for juvenile offenders as held by the court in S v FM (Centre for Child Law as Amicus Curiae) 2013 (1) SACR 57 (GNP) at para 28. Key international instruments - such as Article 17.3 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child - provide that the essential aim of treatment of every child offender shall be his or her reformation, reintegration into his or her family and social rehabilitation.
The State has a Constitutional mandate to take progressive measures towards realising the rights contained in the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is a cornerstone of democracy in South Africa, which enshrines the right of all citizens to access courts as stipulated in s 34 of the Constitution. The State is entrusted with promoting and fulfilling the rights contained in the Bill of Rights and affording all citizens the equal protection and benefit of the law. More pertinent, the State must endeavour to eliminate the obstructions inhibiting access to justice and in particular, those difficulties which impede the poor, illiterate and indigent.
Clause 35 of the Legal Practice Bill (the Bill) will lead to the close scrutiny of the charging of legal fees by attorneys and advocates, as well as the criteria used for calculating them by the professions and officialdom.
Anxiety was expressed in this regard by a number of prominent members of the advocates' and attorneys' professions in the August issue of De Rebus in the article 'The LPB, costs and fees scrutinised at LSNP workshop' (2014 (Aug) DR 6). The party-and-party tariffs prescribed by the Minister for litigious matters, have always been viewed with great scepticism by most members of the attorneys' profession. Where the tariffs fall short, the short-fall is simply made up by charging attorney-and-client fees.
Of all the books currently available on legal costs, this book provides clear and practical guidance on the taxation of costs.
The author has gone to great lengths to assist and guide the reader in approaching and determining reasonable costs in accordance with the existing rules and tariffs. Although it is common knowledge that taxation entails the quantification of legal costs, there is still much debate on the underlying applicable principles in preparing the different kinds of bills of costs and the taxation of these. This is where the book excels in explaining the processes of taxation on a step-by-step basis so that the user may arrive at taxed fees and costs that are reasonable.
August 2014 (4) The South African Law Reports (pp 319 - 636);  3 The All South African Law Reports July no 1 (pp 1 - 114); and no 2 (pp 115 - 257); 2014 (5) Butterworths Constitutional Law Reports May (pp 511 - 640); 2014 (6) June (pp 641 - 739); and 2014 (8) August (pp 869 - 995)