Build the LSSA you want

September 1st, 2021
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Since the enactment of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (LPA), the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) has been positioning itself as a member interest organisation with a new mandate of serving attorneys and candidate attorneys. Since 29 October 2018, the mission of the LSSA has been to represent the attorneys’ profession, safeguard the rule of law via the efficient and fair administration of justice, while the LSSA’s vision has been to empower attorneys so that they can provide excellent legal services to the community in an ethical, professional, considerate, and competent manner.

The LSSA brings together the Black Lawyers Association, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and the Provincial Attorneys’ Associations, in representing the attorneys’ profession (the profession) in South Africa. This includes establishing provincial associations in all nine provinces, focusing on a transformed profession that acts in the interest of both the profession and society.

Besides legal education through its more visible actions, which are Legal Education and Development and De Rebus, the LSSA conducts several behind the scenes activities that the profession does not see but would have felt their impact had the LSSA not intervened. The LSSA intervenes on behalf of the profession to influence legal and other issues that affect the profession. The LSSA has made numerous submissions on behalf of the profession on issues that affect the profession, justice administration, and the rule of law. Some of these are:

  • Various submissions to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, the Minister of Transport; the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; and the Chief Justice regarding COVID-19 issues, including the functioning of the courts and the Deeds Offices.
  • Various submissions to the Rules Board for Courts of Law on the Magistrates’ Courts Rules, including tariff for travelling time for Sheriffs and proposed rule changes regarding summonses.
  • Submissions on the proposed amendment of the tax legislation to remove the requirement of intent for the purposes of prosecution of tax related matters. The LSSA opposed the proposed amendments on the basis that it will open the door for the criminal prosecution of negligent tax-related conduct, such as failure to update contact details.
  • Various submissions to the Legal Practice Council (LPC), including on the draft criteria and procedures for the conferment of senior counsel and senior attorney status (the LSSA’s position is that there should be uniformity). Proposed amendments of the Rules that intended to have principals subject to misconduct charges when they advertise specific requirements, such as driver’s licences and access to vehicles for prospective candidate legal practitioners (the LSSA’s position is that the LPC should not over-regulate the profession and should instead look at alternative ways to encourage transformation within the profession).
  • Submissions to the South African Law Reform Commission on, inter alia, a proposed new dispensation for legal practitioners’ fees, according to s 35 of the LPA, a project on the review of administration orders, etcetera.
  • Several meetings were held with the Banking Association South Africa (BASA), where the issue of the banks’ service level agreements were discussed, as well as the issue of electronic signatures. The LSSA is part of the BASA working group that provides input to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on the Electronic Deeds Registration System and formed part of a delegation that met with the National Economic Development and Labour Council.

The LSSA participated in various professional interest and public interest cases, either as a party or as amicus, including the following:

Recently the LSSA has recommended a cybersecurity policy developed in collaboration with Marsh to members. This is a discretionary provider, and members can choose any other insurance provider, as competition will reduce the premiums (see www.derebus.org.za).

The LSSA has also partnered with PPS and the Reality Wellness Group to offer legal practitioners telephonic support and counselling in psycho-social matters. The wellness programme will be provided to a maximum of 5 000 legal practitioners per month, for an initial period of six months. For more information see: www.lssa.org.za.

The above items are just some of the recent interventions made by the LSSA to ensure that attorneys can provide excellent legal services to the community. In order for the LSSA to become a true member’s interest organisation it needs input from legal practitioners. What else should the LSSA be doing to assist you in your practice? Send your thoughts on this issue to Mapula Oliphant at mapula@derebus.org.za.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2021 (Sept) DR 3.

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