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n Journal for Juridical Science - The role of university law clinics in public interest litigation, with specific reference to South Africa

Volume 38, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-252X
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Abstract

University law clinics in South Africa emerged from the desire of law students and academics to be involved in the struggle for social justice, while simultaneously providing clinical legal education for the students. This article focuses on some of the reported court cases in which university law clinics in South Africa have been involved. It is not concerned with public interest law units at universities that do not involve students in clinical legal education, or the so-called clinics operating in the justice centres of Legal Aid South Africa. Neither does it dwell on the non-litigious activities or the non-reported cases brought by university law clinics. For purposes of comparison, reference is made to the United States context where clinical legal education has been in existence longer than anywhere else. The article also highlights the challenges that law clinics in South Africa face regarding their financial and human resources, the marginalisation of their staff members from mainstream academia, and their heavy caseloads which impact on their educational function. Despite this, national university law clinics have played, and continue to play, an important role in public interest litigation - particularly in the realm of civil litigation which Legal Aid South Africa does not have the resources to address. Through their clinical legal education methodology, South African law clinics have also contributed to the transformation of the South African society, in general, and the legal profession, in particular.


Regshulpklinieke verbonde aan universiteite in Suid-Afrika het hul ontstaan te danke aan die begeerte wat regsstudente en akademici getoon het om betrokke te wees in die stryd om maatskaplike reg en geregtigheid. Terselfdertyd wou regshulpklinieke praktiese opleiding aan regsstudente verskaf. Die artikel sluit nie 'n bespreking in van die aktiwiteite van eenhede by universiteite of die kantore van Regshulp Suid-Afrika wat geen kliniese regsopleiding aan studente verskaf nie en wat fokus op sake in die openbare belang. Hierdie artikel fokus op die gerapporteerde sake waarin universiteit regshulpklinieke in Suid-Afrika tot dusver betrokke was. Sake waarby regshulpklinieke betrokke was, maar wat nie litigasie ingesluit het nie en ongerapporteerde sake, is uitgesluit van hierdie bespreking. Vir die doel van vergelyking, word daar verwys na die Verenigde State van Amerika en Suid-Afrika, aangesien kliniese onderrig daar reeds langer toegepas word as in enige ander land ter wêreld. Die artikel beklemtoon ook die aard van die uitdagings met betrekking tot die opvoedkundige funksie van regshulpklinieke. Regshulpklinieke in Suid-Afrika het uitdagings ten opsigte van finansiële druk sowel as die afgesonderheid van die personeel van die hoofstroom akademici. Die groot aantal sake en gevalle wat in regshulpklinieke hanteer word, het ook 'n impak op die personeel ten opsigte van hul rol by die onderrig van regsstudente. Desnieteenstaande die uitdagings, speel universiteitgebaseerde regshulpklinieke 'n belangrike rol en sal steeds in die toekoms die belangrike rol vervul in litigasie in openbare belang. Suid-Afrikaanse regshulpklinieke het, en lewer steeds 'n belangrike bydrae tot die transformasie van die Suid-Afrikaanse gemeenskap oor die algemeen, sowel as die regsprofessie in besonder, as gevolg van die unieke kliniese aanbiedingsmetodes wat gebruik word.

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/content/juridic/38/1/EJC145803
2013-06-01
2016-12-11

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