|At its seventh plenary meeting on 26 November 2016 since its establishment in March 2015, the National Forum on the Legal Profession (NF) refined its vision for nine fully functional provincial councils of the Legal Practice Council (LPC) once the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 comes into effect early in 2018.
The provincial councils will consist of 8 council members, except the Gauteng Provincial Council, which will have 12 council members to accommodate the large concentration of legal practitioners in that province.
A preliminary costing for the LPC based on a national council as well as nine fully functional provincial councils (and six committees) was finalised. This will cover the regulatory as well as other functions of the LPC for the regulation of all legal practitioners – attorneys, advocates, candidate attorneys, pupil advocates and non-practising practitioners. The NF estimates there are 32 532 practising practitioners currently; 24 912 attorneys and 7 620 advocates.
The assumptions by the NF included that
The NF is now working on the income assumptions for the LPC. Once this process is completed, the annual levy per legal practitioner will be determined.
Amendments to the Act
Election of council members
The NF adopted the recommendation of the subcommittee that the principle of council representation as regards race and gender should be on the basis of 70:30 black to white and 50:50 male to female. The modalities on how these percentages will be achieved, taking into account all the other requirements set out in s 7, must still be determined.
Earlier this year, the NF agreed that only practising legal practitioners will be allowed to vote for the 16 legal practitioners on the LPC. The NF also agreed that there would be separate voters’ rolls for attorneys and advocates. Attorneys will elect the 10 practising attorneys on the LPC and advocates wold elect the 6 practising advocates. This can be reviewed after the first election if necessary.
The NF must also still determine the modalities for the election of council members for the Provincial Councils in terms of the specific criteria set out in s 23 of the Act. Among others, these indicate that ‘provincial needs, interests and sensitivities’ must be taken into account.
Transfer of staff and assets
Code of Conduct and Rules
The NF has also finalised most of the draft Rules (ss 95 and 109 (2)(a)). Once completed, these will be gazetted for comment and further amendments must also be published. In addition, Regulations in s 94 drafted by the NF must be approved by the Minister and Parliament. These must be gazetted before the LPC comes into effect.
The next meeting of the NF will be on 28 January 2017. The 4 working committees will continue to meet in December 2016 in order to meet deadlines.