LSSA adopts amended constitution; remains to serve attorneys

December 1st, 2018

Signing the first amendment to the LSSA constitution on 29 October.
Back, from left: On behalf of Gauteng, North-West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo attorneys, Anthony Millar; on behalf of Western, Eastern and Northern Cape attorneys, Co-chairperson of the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA), Ettienne Barnard.
Front, from left: On behalf of the Black Lawyers Association, Lutendo Sigogo; on behalf of KwaZulu-Natal attorneys, Lunga Peter; and on behalf of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, Co-chairperson of the LSSA Mvuzo Notyesi.
Vuyo Morobane signed later on behalf of Free State attorneys.

By Barbara Whittle

On 29 October, before the dissolution of the four statutory provincial law societies, the Council of the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) adopted the first amendment to its constitution, replacing the four provincial law societies with nine provincial attorneys’ associations as its constituent members. The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) and National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) remain constituent members of the LSSA.

In terms of its amended constitution, the LSSA will continue in its current form to convert its functions to a membership organisation with full implementation over the next three years. Its objectives can be found in its constitution, but generally, the LSSA will –

  • speak for its members (attorneys) nationally;
  • propose amendments to legislation;
  • liaise with the state in all matters relating to the profession;
  • propose, contribute and influence the development and implementation of policy relating to the profession;
  • coordinate and organise practical vocational training for candidate legal practitioners and post professional development training and other training;
  • represent and assist members (attorneys) in disciplinary matters before the Legal Practice Council (LPC) and with alternative dispute resolution; and
  • cooperate with and support the LPC in the public interest.

Responding to confusion in the media about its continued existence, LSSA Co-chairpersons Ettienne Barnard and Mvuzo Notyesi issued a press release confirming that the LSSA continues into the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 dispensation as a voluntary, representative, professional interest body for attorneys.

They said: ‘The LSSA is concerned at the confusion created by reports that the new Legal Practice Council has replaced the LSSA. These reports are factually incorrect as the LSSA continues to exist as an independent body to represent, support, assist and train attorneys.’

The Co-chairpersons explained: ‘In the dispensation preceding 1 November 2018, the four provincial law societies – the Cape Law Society, the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society, the Law Society of the Free State and the Law Society of the Northern Provinces – were the only statutory regulatory bodies for attorneys in terms of the Attorneys Act [53 of] 1979. These four law societies, together with the Black Lawyers Association and the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (the latter two being voluntary associations), were the six constituent members of the LSSA, a voluntary association of those six bodies. The LSSA was never a statutory body. The Legal Practice Council is the new statutory regulatory body for legal practitioners (attorneys and advocates) in terms of the Legal Practice Act, which came into operation on 1 November 2018. The four statutory provincial law societies are now regional offices of the Legal Practice Council and are no longer constituent members of the LSSA.’

Barbara Whittle, Communication Manager, Law Society of South Africa,

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2018 (Dec) DR 13.