No more free copy of De Rebus?

March 1st, 2017

Mapula Sedutla – editor

As the profession readies itself for the imminent changes that will be brought about by the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (LPA), we at De Rebus have considered what the LPA means for the future existence of the publication. The enactment of the LPA is sure to change the landscape of the legal profession while replacing the Attorneys Act 53 of 1979. The LPA is also set to change the statutory regulation of the legal profession with the establishment of the Legal Practice Council (LPC). This means that the four provincial law societies (Cape Law Society, KwaZulu-Natal Law Society, Law Society of the Free State, and the Law Society of the Northern Provinces) will fall away to form part of the LPC. What then does this mean for the attorneys’ journal De Rebus?

De Rebus is published by the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA), which is made up of six constituent members. The six constituent members include the current four provincial law societies, the Black Lawyers Association and the National Association of Democratic Lawyers. With the falling away of the four provincial law societies, the publisher of De Rebus, the LSSA will be dissolved.

De Rebus has over the past 60 years, been circulated nationally, free of charge 11 times a year to approximately 19 000 attorneys and 3 000 candidate attorneys. Currently the costs of publishing De Rebus, which includes, inter alia, printing the journal and the classifieds, running the website and app, postage and editorial staff costs are funded by the Attorneys Fidelity Fund (AFF). The AFF funds the journal at a nominal annual rate under the provisions of s 46(b) of the Attorneys Act. Section 46(b) allows the AFF to provide for funding of programmes that enhance the standards of practice, which includes De Rebus.

The LPA does not contain a section similar to s 46(b). However, s 6(2)(f) states:

‘(2) The Council, in order to perform its functions properly –

(f) may publish or cause to be published periodicals, pamphlets and other printed material for the benefit of legal practitioners or the public.’

As can be seen above, s 6(2)(f) does not enforce the publication of a journal as it uses the words ‘may publish’. This could potentially mean that De Rebus may not exist post-LPA if the AFF does not continue to fund it.

De Rebus is published –

  • so that attorneys who do not have access to libraries can use it for research;
  • as a source to record the happenings of the profession;
  • as a platform for attorneys to air their views;
  • so that attorneys can showcase their talent to other practitioners in their chosen area of specialisation;
  • to assists attorneys to manage their practice; and
  • to record developments in the law in terms of cases and legislation.

The journal plays an important educational role that will surely be missed by the profession if it is no longer published. The big question is: How will De Rebus be funded in the future so that practitioners can continue to enjoy the benefits of receiving the free journal? Send us your views on the future funding of the journal at


Would you like to write for De Rebus?

De Rebus welcomes article contributions in all 11 official languages, especially from legal practitioners. Practitioners and others who wish to submit feature articles, practice notes, case notes, opinion pieces and letters can e-mail their contributions to

The decision on whether to publish a particular submission is that of the De Rebus Editorial Committee, whose decision is final. In general, contributions should be useful or of interest to practising attorneys and must be original and not published elsewhere. For more information, see the ‘Guidelines for articles in De Rebus’ on our website (

  • Please note that the word limit is 2000 words.
  • Upcoming deadlines for article submissions: 20 March and 18 April 2017.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2017 (March) DR 3.