National Forum starts shaping the new dispensation

August 25th, 2015

Compiled by Barbara Whittle

The National Forum on the Legal Profession (NF) – established in terms of ch 10 of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 will meet for the third time on 19 September since its launch in February this year  (see 2015 (May) DR 12).

The NF met in Centurion on 18 July for its second meeting since that section of the Act came into operation. It is scheduled to meet at least four times a year and its first report to the Justice Minister was due early last month.

At the July meeting, the NF membership was confirmed and it was resolved that members would not have alternates as the Act did not allow for these. NF members who cannot attend a meeting can present written comments and discuss these with the chairperson, Kgomotso Moroka SC and deputy chairperson, Max Boqwana.

The NF has the duty to set in place the framework to ensure a smooth transition from the current dispensation to the Legal Practice Council (LPC). In order to deal with its extensive list of tasks, which it should complete in 24 months (with an option to approach the Minister for a further year’s lifespan). To best utilise the time and skills of the members of the NF, four working committees have been established and the NF members divided into these committees are to start work immediately. An Executive Committee comprising the chairperson, Ms Moroka, Mr Boqwana and the executive officer will oversee the work of the NF and its committees, and report to the Minister at the required intervals.

The four committees are as follows:

The Admin and Human Resources Committee will deal with the administration and staffing aspects, as well as stakeholder relations. Its first duty was to consider applications for the positions of chief executive and financial officer, which were expected to be filled in August, in consultation with the Justice Director General. The rest of the staff complement would follow. The NF has been provided office space in Centurion, in the same building as the South African Law Reform Commission, but independent from the Justice Department. This committee will also deal with the issue of a consolidated database of all legal practitioners – attorneys and advocates – that will comprise the rolls of the new LPC.

It is critical that practitioners ensure that their details are current and complete with their present regulatory body (for attorneys, that will be your current provincial law society) to ensure that they are captured on the roll at the LPC once it comes into being. The committee will draft a handover plan from the current dispensation to the new dispensation.

Admin and Human Resources Committee members

Lutendo Sigogo Law Society of South Africa (LSSA): Black Lawyers Association (BLA)
Dali Mpofu SC General Council of the Bar (GCB)
Dumisa Ntsebeza SC Advocates for Transformation (AFT)
Krish Govender LSSA: National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL)
Janine Myburgh LSSA: Cape Law Society (CLS)

The Governance Committee will consider the structure of the LPC and delegation of powers to the provincial councils, as well as the areas of jurisdiction of the latter. In addition, it will make recommendations on the election of members to both the national and provincial councils. The complex issue of funding of the new structures will also be considered by this committee and proposals made to the Minister.

Governance Committee members

Jan Stemmett LSSA: Law Society of the Northern Provinces (LSNP)
Jan Maree LSSA: Free State Law Society (FSLS)
Martha Mbhele LSSA: BLA
Abe Mathebula Attorneys Fidelity Fund (AFF)
Jurgens Prinsloo SC National Forum of Advocates (NFA)
Thina Siwendu Minister’s nominee
Greg Harpur SC GCB
Willem van der Linde SC AFT
Dumisa Ntsebeza SC GCB
Thami Ncongwane SC GCB

The Rules and Code of Conduct Committee will develop a code of conduct, as well as rules relating to disciplinary bodies, the lodging of complaints against legal practitioners and any other rules. These must all be gazetted for comment. In the course of its work, the committee – and all the other committees – may come across aspects of the Act, which may not translate well into the implementation. This committee will be responsible for proposing amendments to the Act, if necessary.

Rules and Code of Conduct Committee members

Jan Stemmett LSSA: LSNP
Janine Myburgh LSSA: CLS
Jurgens Prinsloo SC NFA
Mark Hawyes National Bar Council of South Africa (NBCSA)
Lutendo Sigogo LSSA: BLA
Thina Siwendu Minister’s nominee
Greg Harpur SC GCB
Manette Strauss LSSA: KwaZulu-Natal Law Society

The Education, Standards and Accreditation Committee will deal with various aspects of and the rules relating to practical vocational training, competency-based examinations/assessments and institutions that will qualify to conduct assessments. The rules must be gazetted for comment. It will also make recommendations on the right of appearance of candidate legal practitioners. Other aspects that it may consider are the LLB degree, compulsory post-qualification professional development and practice management, foreign qualifications, as well as the mobility between the branches of the profession as the Act permits easy movement between the roll of attorneys and the roll of advocates.

Education, Standards and Accreditation Committee members

Jan Maree LSSA: FSLS
Brian Nair Legal Aid South Africa
Prof Managay Reddi South African Law Deans Association
Mark Hawyes NBCSA
Abe Mathebula AFF
Ismail Jamie SC GCB
Dali Mpofu SC GCB
Willem van der Linde SC GCB
Krish Govender LSSA: NADEL
Martha Mbhele LSSA: BLA

Barbara Whittle, communication manager, Law Society of South Africa,

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2015 (Sep) DR 18.