What the Legal Practice Act means for the future existence of De Rebus

February 1st, 2015

By Mapula Thebe – editor

As it has been published in previous issues and the current issue of De Rebus, the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 was promulgated in September last year. During the annual general meetings of the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society (see 11) and the Law Society of the Northern Provinces (see 13), late last year, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, spoke comprehensively on the LPA. Minister Masutha announced that the first phase of implementing the LPA, which is chap 10, will be put into place early this year.

Chapter 10 of the LPA establishes the National Forum on the Legal Profession. This forum will be a transitional body, which will be in existence for a period not exceeding three years and will deliberate on issues that may arise once the LPA is looked at in detail by those who will form the body. See page 21 for the Law Society of South Africa’s designated representatives on the National Forum. Minister Masutha emphasised the importance of the National Forum as its negotiations ‘will shape the future legal practice’.

As the profession readies itself for the imminent changes that will be brought about by the LPA, we at De Rebus have considered what the LPA means for the future existence of the publication. Currently the cost of publishing De Rebus, which includes, inter alia, printing the journal and the classifieds, postage and editorial staff costs are funded by the Attorneys Fidelity Fund (AFF). The AFF funds the journal at a nominal annual rate of approximately R 44 per attorney and candidate attorney under the provisions of s 46(b) of the Attorneys Act 53 of 1979. Section 46(b) allows the AFF to provide for funding of programmes that enhance the standards of practice, which includes De Rebus.

The LPA does not contain a section similar to s 46(b), however, s 6 states:

‘(2) The Council, in order to perform its functions properly —

(f) may publish or cause to be published periodicals, pamphlets and other printed material for the benefit of legal practitioners or the public.’

As can be seen above, s 6(2)(f) does not enforce the publication of a journal as it uses the words ‘may publish’. This could potentially mean that De Rebus may not exist post-LPA if the AFF does not continue to fund it. Our 2013 reader survey showed that a total of 42,3% of respondents indicated they would not be prepared to pay for the journal if in future it would no longer be available for free.

The journal plays an important educational role that will surely be missed by the profession if it is no longer published. Now is the opportune time for practitioners to air their views on the LPA and ensure that De Rebus continues to be published as well as look for other anomalies in the Act. Send us your views on the future funding of the journal at mapula@derebus.org.za

New staff member

De Rebus would like to welcome Isabel Janse van Vuren to its team. She has been appointed as sub-editor and takes over from Kathleen Kriel who was promoted to production editor. Those who wish to advertise in the classifieds can contact Ms Janse van Vuren at yp@derebus.org.za

Would you like to write for De Rebus?

De Rebus welcomes article contributions in all 11 official languages, especially from legal practitioners. Practitioners and others who wish to submit feature articles, practice notes, case notes, opinion pieces and letters can e-mail their contributions to derebus@derebus.org.za.

The decision on whether to publish a particular submission is that of the De Rebus Editorial Committee, whose decision is final. In general, contributions should be useful or of interest to practising attorneys and must be original and not published elsewhere. For more information, see the ‘Guidelines for articles in De Rebus’ on our website (www.derebus.org.za).

• Please note that the word limit is now 2000 words.

• Upcoming deadlines for article submissions: 17 February and 17 March 2015.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2015 (Jan/Feb) DR 3.