Applications to PVT Schools with foreign law degrees

April 1st, 2023

By Michelle Beatson

Recently, there has been numerous applications to the Legal Education and Development’s Practical Vocational Training School for Legal Practice (PVT School) nationally by persons in possession of foreign law degrees or degrees not attained in South Africa. In terms of s 26(1)(b) of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (LPA), an individual may only apply to be admitted as a legal practitioner if they are in possession of either an LLB degree from a South African university or a foreign law degree that is recognised by South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) as being ‘equivalent to’ such an LLB degree.

In terms of the PVT School application form for admission LEAD can accept and register a candidate to attend the PVT School with a foreign law degree if the degree is equivalent to a South African LLB degree after being evaluated by SAQA.

This is also stated on the PVT School application form at page 6, para B column three.

For some law degrees of foreign universities, their degree is, according to the SAQA Certificate of Evaluation, evaluated as being a ‘closest comparable degree to a South African Bachelor of Laws’ degree and the words ‘closest comparable’ is thus utilised instead of the word ‘equivalent to’ as prescribed in the LPA.

A South African LLB degree necessitates the obtaining of a minimum of 480 credits within such a degree. It may, therefore, become necessary for candidates to approach a university within South Africa to peruse their detailed academic record to ascertain, which modules would need to be completed for the full 480 credits to be obtained.

Once the candidate qualifies to attain the LLB degree from the nominated tertiary institution, this is what will need to be supplied to the PVT School for admission, as well as for admission as a candidate legal practitioner – due to the fact that a ‘closely comparable’ degree is indeed not an ‘equivalent degree’ to the LLB degree.

Michelle Beatson is Principal of the Legal Education and Development School for Legal Practice in Pretoria. Ms Beatson is also a member of the De Rebus Editorial Committee.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2023 (April) DR 3.