Court Practice Committee meeting summary

June 1st, 2024
x
Bookmark

By Kevin O’Reilly

The Law Society of South Africa’s (LSSA) Court Practice Committee (the Committee) met on 8 April 2024 to discuss several issues within its area of expertise. The following were among those issues discussed:

Provincial Efficiency Enhancement Committee

The Committee noted the Gauteng and Limpopo Provincial Efficiency Enhancement Committee (PEEC) meetings were held on 14 March 2024.

It was noted that the minutes from December 2023 were made available, and three areas of concern were noted, including: Court security; the backlog of trial rolls (for example, civil cases in Pretoria being scheduled for 2028); and closure of magistrate’s courts due to water shortages.

National Efficiency Enhancement Committee

The Committee noted the National Efficiency Enhancement Committee (NEEC) meeting was held on 19 March 2024.

Fenyane judgment

The Committee considered the Fenyane v Ndengane and Others (GJ) (unreported case no 19397/2022, 11-3-2024) (Dosio J) judgment, which dealt with the right of appearance of an attorney without a right of appearance certificate before the taxing master.

The court held:

‘(a) that the words “appear” in the High Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal or the Constitutional Court, in terms of s 25(3) of the LPA, refer to appearance before judges of such courts, not to appearance before taxing masters of such courts, and that,

(b) any duly admitted and enrolled attorney may appear on behalf of their client before a taxing master of such courts.’

The court also found that candidate attorneys should not be able to appear before taxing masters, until such stage as they are admitted.

The Committee welcomed the judgment. The Committee noted that two amici curiae had abandoned their request that the relief sought by the applicant be widened to include cost consultants. The Committee highlighted that, in KwaZulu-Natal it has been agreed that cost consultants who are not attorneys will not be permitted to address taxing masters. It was pointed out that if submissions are incorrectly made before a taxing master by a non-legal practitioner, then there is no regulatory body to lodge complaints with. The Committee also considered the JJVR v Taxing Master High Court of South Africa (Western Cape Division) and Others 2024 (2) SA 457 (WCC) judgment that held that cost consultants who do not have right of appearance cannot appear before the Taxing Master. It is now clear that a tax consultant cannot appear before a Taxing Master but can go with and support a legal practitioner.

Loadshedding

The LSSA Loadshedding Task Team met on 5 December 2023 and considered the implications of the United Democratic Movement and Others v Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd and Others (GP) (unreported case no 005779/2023; 003615/2023; 022464/2023, 1-12-2023) (Davis J) judgment. The Committee noted that the LSSA might join as an amicus curiae in the matter, should the opportunity arise.

The Task Team also resolved to undertake a survey to establish the impact of loadshedding on the judicial system in South Africa. The survey will be circulated to all the courts to complete and send back.

Road Accident Fund (RAF)

It was noted that a collective of legal entities, including those in the medical-legal field, was operational last year, and will be reinstated to address the many issues relating to the RAF, including the recent severe criticisms directed at attorneys by the RAF.

Senior Attorney and Senior Counsel status

The Uniform Guidelines on Conferral of Senior Attorney and Senior Counsel Honours on Eligible Legal Practitioners were approved on 4 January 2023. These guidelines serve as the primary procedure for the consideration of any senior legal practitioner status and were published in the Government Gazette on 13 March 2024 (see Editorial ‘Uniform Guidelines on conferral of Senior Attorney’ (2024 (April) DR 3)).

Legislation and case law developments that require workshops

The Committee considered the new Marriage Bill, 2023 and discussed the possibility of organising a workshop or seminar on the topic. The Committee noted previously applicants had to apply to court for recognition of Hindu and Muslim marriages and now this Act makes provision for them. The Act also deals with the proprietary consequences and implementation of polygamous marriages.

Amendment of Rules Regulating the Conduct of the Proceedings of the Magistrates’ Courts of South Africa

The Committee noted the Rules were published in GN4476 GG50272/8-3-2024 and came into effect on 12 April 2024.

Amendment of the Rules regulating the conduct of the proceedings of the Provincial and Local Divisions of the High Court of South Africa

The Rules were published in GN4477 GG50272/8-3-2024 and came into effect on 12 April 2024. The Committee noted the amendment made provision for three scales for fees of advocates and discussed how it would be implemented, and whether a court must make an order for Scale A, B or C. The Committee earmarked rule 67A relating to the remuneration of advocates for a future discussion.

General

The following items were discussed under general:

  • Administrative archiving in the High Court: The Committee discussed the new rule relating to administrative archiving in the High Court, noting that practitioners want to know how this rule will be implemented.
  • Dedicated fast lanes for corruption cases: A suggestion was made to consider this topic for a workshop.
  • Circulation of minutes: The Committee discussed the possibility of requesting the minutes of the PEEC meeting to be circulated and they also discussed circulating their own meeting minutes among the Provincial Associations for informational purposes and to promote best practices.
Rules Board for Courts of Law

Nonduduzo Khanyile, Mhlangabezi Maliwa and Randal Titus are the profession’s representatives on the Rules Board for Courts of Law. Mr Maliwa attended the Committee meeting. He welcomed the opportunity to receive the input of legal practitioners, and reported that the Rules Board was considering, among others, the rules relating to further particulars and security for costs. As is customary, the Committee will submit comments on these and other proposed changes at the appropriate time.

Kevin O’Reilly MA (NMU) is a sub-editor at De Rebus.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2024 (June) DR 8.

X