LPC: A year into office

December 1st, 2019
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The De Rebus Editorial Committee and staff wish all of our readers compliments of the season and a prosperous new year.
De Rebus will be back in 2020 with its combined January/February edition, which will be available at the beginning of February 2020.
De Rebus staff, back from left: Kevin O’Reilly, Isabel Joubert, Shireen Mahomed and Kathleen Kriel.
Seated from left: Kgomotso Ramotsho and Mapula Sedutla.

As 2019 draws to an end, it is interesting to note that it has been a year since the Legal Practice Council (LPC) took over its duties as a statutory body – established in terms of s 4 of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (LPA) – to regulate the affairs of and exercise jurisdiction over all legal practitioners (attorneys and advocates) and candidate legal practitioners. The LPC recently held a networking session with its stakeholders to discuss matters of interest to the profession and to give the profession an opportunity to ask the LPC questions, after a year in office.

Addressing delegates at the networking event, Chairperson of the LPC, Kathleen Matolo-Dlepu, noted that the work done by the LPC over the past year has been geared towards making sure that the council implements its mandate as the regulatory body of the legal profession to the fullest. Speaking about the LPA, Ms Matolo-Dlepu said that the LPA provides a legislative framework for the fundamental transformation and restructuring of the legal profession in line with constitutional imperatives and to broaden access to justice. She added that the LPC derives its mandate from the LPA, which includes the following actions:

  • The regulation of the legal profession, in the public interest by means of single statute.
  • The removal of any unnecessary barriers for entry to the profession.
  • The strengthening of the independency of the profession.
  • The ensuring of accountability of the profession to the public.
  • To set norms and standards for adequate legal education.
  • To provide for the admission and enrolment of legal practitioners.

Ms Matolo-Dlepu pointed out that the LPC has fully implemented the provisions of reg 3 promulgated in terms of s 109(1)(a) of the LPA, which calls for the establishment of provincial councils. ‘We are now operational in all nine provinces capacitated by 261 staff members throughout South Africa. We are now able to regulate just over 32 000 practising legal practitioners who are in our roll,’ she added.

On the issue of subscriptions Ms Matolo-Dlepu noted: ‘As the council we would like to acknowledge all the responses received from the profession on the gazetted notice we sent out on 4 October, on the fees payable to the council made under the authority of sections 95(1), 95(2) and 109(2) of the Act. The council is currently in the process of reviewing all the comments received and will in due course make sure that whatever decision is taken is to the benefit of the profession,’ (see GenN 525 GG42739/4-10-2019 and www.derebus.org.za/lpc-notices).

Ms Matolo-Dlepu said that the LPC has had advanced discussions with the Legal Practitioners’ Fidelity Fund (the Fund) about the professional indemnity cover premiums. ‘In our discussions with the Fund, they have agreed to postpone the payment of the Professional Indemnity Cover premium to the 2021 Fidelity Fund Certificate application cycle, and not for the 2020 cycle. We would like to urge legal practitioners to prepare for the payment of this premium as per the provision of section 74(1). The council is committed in assisting the Fund to ensure that this is implemented and fully operation by 2021.’

Speaking about the conveyancing examinations, Ms Matolo-Dlepu noted that one of the changes that was implemented was that first-time candidates did not have to write both papers on the same day, the papers were written a week apart. This was done to allow candidates enough time to prepare for both conveyancing papers, but also to enable access to the conveyancing profession as this process is envisaged to increase the number of graduates who register and pass the examinations.

Ms Matolo-Dlepu noted that one of the aspects the LPC will be tackling is transformation of the profession. She added that South Africa does not have enough legal practitioners in comparisons with other developing countries because the ratio is one legal practitioner for every 1 839 people, while Brazil has a ratio of one legal practitioner for every 262 people.

Send your views on the work conducted by the LPC in the past year to:
mapula@derebus.org.za

Mapula Sedutla – Editor

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  • Upcoming deadlines for article submissions: 20 January and 17 February 2020.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2019 (Dec) DR 3.