Retired Justice Desai appointed as the Legal Services Ombud

January 25th, 2021

Retired Justice, Sirajudien Desai, has been appointed as the Legal Services Ombud in terms of s 47 of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014.

By Kgomotso Ramotsho

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed recently retired Justice Sirajudien Desai as the Legal Services Ombud in terms of s 47 of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (LPA). In a press release by the Office of the Presidency, it stated that after discussions with Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, President Ramaphosa appointed Justice Desai to advance and safeguard the integrity of the legal profession in the country.

The statement added that in terms of the LPA, Judge Desai is empowered to investigate complaints, alleged maladministration, within the ambit of the LPA, including actions which, among others, may affect the integrity of the legal profession. President Ramaphosa said: ‘Judge Desai has devoted the greater part of his life to serving the nation as a judge and I am confident he will take the legal profession to new heights by ensuring that those in the profession meet the ethical standards required in a legal system that serves all South Africans with fairness and dignity within the rule of law.’

Mr Lamola welcomed the appointment of Judge Desai as the Legal Services Ombud. He said that President Ramaphosa could not have appointed a more qualified, experienced, and appropriate jurist than Judge Desai. Mr Lamola added that having practised as an attorney, advocate and judge, Judge Desai understands the intricacies and challenges of both streams of the profession. ‘We look forward to working with him and the entire profession in our quest to improve access to justice for our people,’ Mr Lamola said.

The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) welcomed the appointment of former judge and founding member of NADEL, Judge Desai, as the Legal Services Ombud. In a statement released, NADEL said it was confident that the current leadership of the Legal Practice Council will discharge of its duty and assist and protect the Ombud to ensure his independence, impartiality, dignity, and effectiveness. NADEL also expressed confidence in Judge Desai’s suitability for the office and wished him all the best in this historic task.

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) also welcomed the appointment of Judge Desai as the Legal Services Ombud.

‘This appointment is long overdue and should have coincided when the Legal Practice Council came into effect on 30 October 2018. I encourage the Department of Justice to ensure that the Ombud’s office is fully capacitated as soon as possible so that the Ombud can become fully operational. The Ombud in terms of the Legal Practice Act is independent and only answerable to the Constitution and the law,’ said the LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.

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