National Forum on the Legal Profession: One year on

February 24th, 2016
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Compiled by Barbara Whittle

On 23 January, at its fourth meeting since the launch of the National Forum on the Legal Profession (NF) in March 2015, two of the NF members – Martha Mbhele and Willem van der Linde – were replaced by their nominating constituents as they had both been appointed to the Bench. The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) nominated its former Co-chairperson, Kathleen Matolo-Dlepu from the Black Lawyers Association to replace Ms Mbhele, and the General Council of the Bar replaced Mr Van der Linde with Geoff Budlender SC.

At the January meeting, the NF was in the process of finalising its staff complement of administrative and research staff. However, the practitioners in the four working committees continued to deal with the tasks allocated to those committees at meetings scheduled – usually on Saturdays – between the NF meetings. As matters are ripe for recommendations, such recommendations from the working committees will serve before the plenary of the NF for debate and finalisation. In the meantime, the NF’s chairperson and deputy chairperson – Kgomotso Moroka SC and Max Boqwana – continue to brief the Minister and would be presenting the second six-monthly report on the NF’s progress, which must be made to Justice Minister Michael Masutha in terms of s 98(4) of Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (LPA).

The Governance Committee is preparing recommendations to the NF on whether there should be nine provincial councils (see s 23) and committees (s 23(6)) at every seat of the High Court, or whether it would be more feasible to have six provincial councils or four based on the current provincial law societies’ jurisdictions. The committee has worked on an allocation of functions at national, provincial and committee level.

The committee has also consulted with state law advisers to review lacunae in the Act with a view to making amendments so that a proper hand-over period is provided for. This will allow the NF to oversee a parallel implementation process from the current dispensation to the new dispensation.

The Rules and Code of Conduct Committee has been working on a code of conduct, which is envisaged to contain broad principles in its preamble, referring to the Constitution, transformation imperatives and prohibition of unfair discrimination. The rules are being drafted taking into account the current uniform rules for the attorneys’ profession, as well as rules relating to the advocates’ profession.

The Education, Standards and Accreditation Committee has been discussing the future of vocational training focussing on the extent to which it may be possible to coordinate the training of attorneys and advocates, and looking at specific training that may be required for candidate legal practitioners entering each branch of the profession.

Besides dealing with the recruitment and appointment of NF administrative staff, the Admin and Human Resources Committee will commence work on the human resources organogram for the LPC and the consultation process of negotiating and transferring staff from the currents statutory law societies to the LPC.

 

  • Updated information on developments relating to the Legal Practice Act can be viewed on the LSSA website at www.LSSA.org.za (under the tab ‘Legal Practice Act’).

 

Compiled by Barbara Whittle, communication manager, Law Society of South Africa, barbara@lssa.org.za

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2016 (March) DR 10.