Wills Week 2020: 26 – 30 October

Online registration for this year’s National Wills Week initiative is now closed. If you missed the deadline for online registration, you may still register manually by e-mailing us at nomfundom@LSSA.org.za. National Wills Week will be held from 26 to 30 October.

National Wills Week is now an established highlight among the profession’s social outreach and access to justice initiatives. This is thanks to the thousands of attorneys who participate by giving generously of their time and skills. Wills Week has also attracted increasing coverage in the media as well as support from major stakeholders.

The aim of the Wills Week campaign is twofold:

– to position attorneys as the premier providers of wills and estates services to the public, and to improve the image of the profession generally; and
– to encourage members of the public who would not normally make use of the services of an attorney, or who may hesitate to approach an attorney, to consult an attorney to have a basic will drafted.

How does Wills Week work?
Your firm will be provided with free, trilingual posters in the language combination of your choice to publicise your participation. Provision is made on the posters for your firm’s contact details.

Your firm will be listed as a participating firm on the database of participating firms on the Law Society of South Africa website.

A national media campaign will be launched early in September. All media and publicity material will invite members of the public to consult the LSSA website for the contact details of participating firms.

What is expected from you as a participating firm?
– Basic wills will be drawn up free of charge.
– You should provide an explanation of the importance of having a properly and professionally drafted will to the client.
– You may not insist that you are appointed as the executor of the estate.
– You must give the client a copy of his/her will.
– Interviews with clients should be conducted at your offices.
– You will not be expected to redraft or amend existing wills for free, nor will you be expected to draft complex wills involving trusts, etc.

If you are planning to tweet about Wills Week, please use the Twitter hashtag: #WillsWeek20.

Thank you for contributing to the positive image of the profession through your participation in this initiative.

PLAN FOR THE PHASED IN RETURN OF EMPLOYEES TO THE WORKPLACE – ALERT LEVEL 3

GUIDELINES ON KEY COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR

LEGAL PRACTITIONERS AS EMPLOYERS

 Law firms and legal practitioners with employees (practitioners) can render permitted services subject to several Directions issued by the Minister of Employment and Labour dated 4 June 2020 (the Directions). The purpose of the Directions is ‘to stipulate measures that must be taken by employers in order to protect the health and safety of workers and members of the public who enter their workplaces or are exposed to their working activities’.

The risk assessment 

Practitioners, when commencing operations, must undertake a risk assessment to:

  • Give effect to the minimum measures required under the Directions considering the specific circumstances of the workplace; and
  • take special measures, as required, to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 for vulnerable employees to facilitate their safe return to work or their working from home;

Practitioners must also ensure that the measures required by the Directions and the risk assessment plan are strictly complied with through monitoring and supervision.

The phased-in plan

Practitioners must, on the basis of the risk assessment, develop a plan outlining the protective measures in place for the phased return of its employees before opening, which must include:

  • The date that the workplace will open and the hours of opening;
  • A list of employees permitted to return to work and those who are required to work from home;
  • The plan and timetable for the phased -in return of employees to the workplace;
  • The identification of vulnerable employees;
  • The identification of ways to minimize the number of workers at the workplace at any one time contemplated; and
  • Measures for the daily screening of employees and the screening of clients, contractors and visitors to the workplace.

The plan must also:

  • Correspond with Annexure E (which form was published under the Regulations dated 29 April 2020);
  • Be retained for inspection;
  • Stipulate which employees are permitted to work;
  • Provide what the plans are for the phased-in return of their employees to the workplace are; and
  • What health protocols are in place to protect employees from Covid-19; and
  • The details of the Covid -19 compliance officer

The guiding principle is that: All persons who are able to work from home must do so.

Key requirements

Practitioners will under Alert Level 3 be permitted to perform any type of work outside the home, and to travel to and from work and for work, subject to:

  1. strict health protocols, and social distancing rules;
  2. return to work to be phased in order to put in place measures to make the workplace Covid-19 ready;
  3. return to work to be done in a manner that avoids and reduces risks of infection; and
  4. the work not being listed under the specific economic exclusions in Table 2.

Practitioners must, amongst other:

  1. Appoint a manager as a compliance officer to a Covid-19 compliance officer who will oversee the implementation of the phased-in plan and adherence to the health protocols relating to Covid-19.
  2. Oversee the implementation of the Phased-in Plan and adherence to the applicable, health and safety measures established in the workplace.
  3. Arrange the workplace to ensure minimal contact between workers and, as far as practicable, ensure that there is at least one and half metres apart. In some instances, the distance may need to be greater.
  4. If not practicable to arrange for work stations to be at least one and half metres apart, arrange physical barriers; or when required, supply the employee free of charge with appropriate PPE based on a risk assessment of the working place.
  5. Ensure the relevant measures are implemented through supervision both in the workplace and in the common areas outside the immediate workplace.
  6. Screen all workers when they report for work to determine whether they have any of the Covid-19-related symptoms (i.e.: cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, or loss of smell or taste( and to determine whether they suffer from any of the following additional symptoms: fever, body aches, redness of eyes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, weakness or tiredness.
  7. Require workers to immediately inform the employer if they experience any of the symptoms while at work.
  8. Ensure that employees that present with the symptoms are not permitted to work, i.e.: fever, cough, sore throat, redness of eyes, shortness of breath, or difficulty in breathing)
  9. Provide each of its employees, free of charge, with a minimum of two cloth masks or require an employee to wear some form of cloth covering over their mouth and nose while at work and provide information, instruction and training as to the correct use of cloth masks.
  10. Notify employees if they are sick or have Covid–19 symptoms that they must not come to work and to take paid sick leave in terms of the BCEA.
  11. Free of charge, ensure that there are sufficient quantities of hand sanitizer at the workplace for employees and visitors.
  12. Provide the employee who interacts with the public, with sufficient supplies of hand-sanitizer at that employee’s workstation for both the employee and the person with whom the worker is interacting.
  13. Ensure all areas such as toilets, common areas, door handles, shared electronic equipment are regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  14. Disable biometric systems or make them Covid-19-proof.
  15. Ensure that there are adequate facilities for the washing of hands with soap and clean water.
  16. Employees are required to wash their hands and sanitize their hands regularly while at work.
  17. Employees who interact with the public are instructed to sanitize their hands between each interaction with public.
  18. Surfaces that employees and members of the public come into contact with are routinely cleaned and disinfected.
  19. Require every worker to report whether they suffer from any of the following additional symptoms: body aches, loss of smell, loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, weakness, or tiredness
  20. Immediately contact the Covid-19 hotline: 0800 02 9999 if a worker has been diagnosed with Covid-19.

Practitioners with less than 10 employees

Practitioners with less than 10 employees must take the following measures:

·  Develop a basic plan for the phasing in the return of its employees taking into account those that are able to work remotely and those over the age of 60 years or who have comorbidities;

·  Arrange the workplace to ensure that employees are at least one and half metres apart or, if not practicable, place physical barriers between them to prevent the possible transmission of the virus;

·  Ensure that employees with the Covid-19 related symptoms are not permitted to work;

·   Immediately contact the Covid-19 hotline: 0800 02 9999 for instruction and direct the employee to act in accordance with those instructions;

·   Provide cloth masks or require an employee to wear some form of cloth covering over their mouth and nose while at work;

·   Provide each employee with hand sanitizers, soap and clean water to wash their hands and disinfectants to sanitize their workstations;

·   Ensure that each employee while at work washes with soap and sanitizes their hands;

·   Ensure that their workstations are disinfected regularly; and

·    Take any other measures indicated by a risk assessment of the workplace including the such measures as are appropriate if the public have access to the workplace.

Click here to read the directions. 

∗DISCLAIMER: These guidelines are not meant to provide a comprehensive list of the requirements that must be complied with by practitioners pursuant to the applicable legislation, Regulations or Directions. Practitioners must consult the relevant law, Regulations and Direction to ensure compliance.

COVID-19 ALERT LEVEL 3 REGULATIONS

Amendments to the lockdown Regulations (GG 43258 of 29 April 2020) to deal with Alert Level 3, appear in GG 43364 dated 28 May 2020.

From 1 June 2020, Alert Level 3 applies to all provinces, metropolitan areas and districts, but the Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (GOGTA) may declare, by notice in the Government Gazette, a geographical area or cluster of geographical areas a hotspot, where additional restrictions may apply. GG 43364 contains a list of areas that had already been declared as hotspots.

The following are some of the provisions (the forms, where applicable, appear in Annexure A of the Regulations):

  • Business and other institutions may operate, except for those listed in Table 2 (which include restaurants, short term letting for leisure purposes, hairdressing and beauty treatments, tourist attractions and entertainment activities). Regulation 46 deals with the process to be followed, such as the minimising of the number of employees at any given time, health and safety protocols, employees over 60 or with co-morbidities. These need to be read with the occupational health and safety directions and labour legislation. All persons who are able to work from home must do so.
  • A plan for the phased-in return of employees (Annexure E) must be developed and retained for inspection. Compliance officers must be appointed in both the private and the public sector.
  • Movement of people in and out of hotspots may be restricted.
  • People may travel to perform permitted services; to and from work; to buy goods and obtain services.
  • Learners and students may attend schools and learning institutions, once these are open.
  • Places of worship may be attended in the same province. (For the directions on the norms and standards applicable to places of worship, including maximum number of people, duration of services and health and safety measures, refer to GG 43365 of 28 May 2020).
  • Movement between provinces, metropolitan areas and districts and hotspots is prohibited, except for:
  • work – with a permit from the employer (Form 2);
  • moving to a new residence or caring for an immediate family member – must have an affidavit sworn to or affirmed at a magistrate’s court or police station (Form 6);
  • to and from schools and learning institutions – certificate to be issued by head of school or learning institution for travelling between provinces (Form 3A). Persons transporting learners or students must have a permit (Form 3B) from the head of the school;
  • obtaining medical treatment;
  • movement permitted under Regulation 41, which deals with the closure of borders of the Republic.
  • Movement of children is allowed between co-holders of parental responsibilities or caregivers in the same metropolitan area or district, if they are in possession of (a) a court order; (b) a parental responsibilities agreement or parenting plan registered with the family advocate; or (c) a permit by a magistrate (Form 3) if (a) and (b) are not available. A birth certificate or certified copy thereof to prove a legitimate relationship and written reasons why the movement of the child is necessary are required.

For across-border movement of children a permit from a magistrate is necessary (Form 3) and the required documents are the same as above.

  • Funerals are limited to 50 persons. Across borders movement is only permitted for close relations of the deceased, as per Regulation 35(1). A permit (Form 4) from the magistrate’s office or police station is needed. A death certificate or certified copy thereof, or, if not yet available, a sworn affidavit (Form 5), together with a letter from a cultural or religious leader that the funeral needs to take place within 24 hours, must be provided. Night vigils are prohibited.
  • Gatherings are prohibited, save for a few exceptions.
  • Regulation 39 lists the places closed for the public, including beaches, gyms and fitness centres, accommodation facilities and conference facilities.
  • Visits to inter alia correctional centres, police holding cells, health establishment and older persons’ residential facilities are prohibited, except to the extent that the relevant Minister directs.
  • Exercise between 06h00 and 18h00 is allowed, but not in groups and health and social distancing protocols must be followed.
  • The wearing of a face mask or other appropriate item in a public place is mandatory.
  • Evictions are prohibited, but a court may grant an eviction order in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act and the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act. An eviction order may be stayed and suspended until the end of Alert Level 3, unless the court decides that it is not just and equitable to do so.
  • The relevant Minister must issue directions regarding public transport, including air travel, bus and taxi services and private vehicles to cater for the gradual return to work.
  • The sale of liquor is allowed from Monday to Thursday between 09h00 and 17h00, but the sale of tobacco and tobacco products is prohibited.

Click here to download GG43364

REGISTRATION OPEN FOR LSSA CONFERENCE

Update: Please note that the Law Society of South Africa is currently assessing the situation regarding the pandemic and will provide an update on the annual general meeting as soon as possible.

The Law Society of South Africa’s annual conference has been postponed to July 2020. The exact dates will be confirmed. The conference will focus on one of the key challenges for the legal profession; Renewal of the profession, access, diversity and sustainability.

The conference will be preceded by the annual general meeting (AGM) on the Thursday from 15h00 to 17h00 at the same venue as the conference. The AGM is open to all practitioners. Seats are limited for the AGM and booking is essential.

We have invited Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng as well as the Justice Minister, Ronald Lamola, to give the profession guidance on how we as practitioners, can work around these challenges and can co-operate with their offices.

The rest of the day will be devoted to discussions on the sustainability and governance of the profession. There will also be a panel discussion on what members can expect from their professional association, focusing on what members expect from the LSSA.

On the Saturday, there will be a stakeholders’ discussion where representatives of the Legal Practice Council, the LSSA and the Legal Practitioners’ Fidelity Fund will discuss what has been done since the implementation of the Legal Practice Act (LPA) and the challenges ahead. Since the LPA does not make provision for an annual meeting of members, this is a rare opportunity for practitioners to raise questions with representatives of these organisations.

Other sessions will focus on diversity and transformation looking at whether the objective of transformation was achieved and the failures. The legal practitioners of tomorrow will also be discussed, focusing on fees and related matters.

Registration for the conference is free. Please register here.
There will be a gala dinner on the Friday evening from 7pm. Registration for the dinner is R250.

Please make sure to also let us know if you will be attending the gala dinner and the AGM by ticking the relevant box on the online registration.

Book your seat today!

View the draft programme here
Register online here

LSSA Advisory: RAF handover of files

Dear Colleague,

The LSSA is very concerned about the letters that all attorneys appointed to the Road Accident Fund received dated 18 and 20 February 2020, being purported notice of handover of files in terms of clause 14 of the service level agreement.

Although the 18 February letter advises that panel attorneys are required to proceed with all trials and pre-trials pending handover of files, the simultaneous lapsing of all mandates to all panel attorneys and the subsequent handover of all files within a period of just over two months will inevitably have a significant impact on the finalisation of trials, pre-trial proceedings, settlement negotiations and the processing of claims in general to the detriment of claimants.

The letter of 20 February points out that clause 14.4.7 has to be complied with in all matters. This requires considerable work on the part of the attorneys handling those matters which will further detract from time available to proceed with trials and pre-trials in those matters on trial before 31 May 2020.

The RAF is currently under severe cash flow constraints. The cancellation of all mandates to all panel attorneys will give rise to further significant amounts due and payable for legal costs to the further detriment to many claimants who have been waiting for more than six months for payment of what is due to them in terms of Court Orders.

As far as the LSSA is aware, no official explanation has been offered by the RAF for their conduct nor has there been any statement issued by them regarding the arrangements made, if any, for the future conduct of the cases handed back to the RAF.

The LSSA fails to understand the reason for such drastic action and is of the view that it is unconstitutional, irrational, unreasonable and arbitrary.

The LSSA has demanded that the directive be retracted and that the RAF embarks on a process that does not seek to undermine basic principles of justice and its contractual obligations, failing which the LSSA will seek an urgent Court interdict.

The RAF Board has acknowledged receipt of the letter and advised that it will be meeting on 27 February to consider our demand and will get back to us on 2 March 2020.

We will advise you of further developments.

Regards

ANTHONY PILLAY
Acting Executive Director, Law Society of South Africa

LSSA Advisory  25 February 2020

Cross-border practice rights

The issue of cross-border practice rights is very much on the foreground. The matter is being discussed at various fora, including by government.

At the previous SADC Lawyers Association conference, a decision was taken to establish a task team to consider this prominent matter. Each SADCLA member is to come up with a position on how they see themselves in relation to cross-border practice rights and a consolidated paper will then be submitted to the relevant authorities.

The Law Society of South Africa’s (LSSA) understanding is that there are also some discussions at SADC level about Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs), which also cover legal services. However, the negotiation of the MRAs will have to be between the various professional bodies.

The LSSA has developed a draft position paper and would like to solicit your views on it.

The position paper can be viewed here.

Please send your comments to kris@lssa.org.za by 28 February 2020.

Outcomes of LSSA Conveyancing Task Team’s first meeting of 2020

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) would like to notify legal practitioners that its Conveyancing Task Team is meeting regularly and had its first meeting for 2020 on 16 January.

The Task Team was established by the LSSA’s House of Constituents (HoC) in 2019 to review the concerns on the poor pass rate for the conveyancing admission examination. The LSSA is grateful that the Legal Practice Council approved most of its recommendations for various interventions regarding the exam which will be put in place in 2020.

During its meeting, the Task Team reviewed the overall provisional results of the first conveyancing exam (September 2019) after its recommendations. The results did not show great improvement in most provinces and the Task Team expects that the marks will be higher this year as the interventions take effect.

Conveyancing mentorship programmes
In August 2019, the LSSA introduced a pilot mentorship programme in Mthatha and Polokwane. The Task Team noted that the current mentees in the pilot programme did not write the September 2019 examination and several had indicated that they would only be writing the examination at the August 2020 sitting. The Task Team is optimistic that the mentorship programme will bear fruit as it is rolled out in other cities and towns.
The LSSA calls on all conveyancers to support the LSSA Mentorship Programme. It is up to the existing conveyancers to see that there is effective skill transfer in the profession. It is incumbent on each conveyancer in South Africa to make sure that the programme is a success.

LEAD conveyancing course
The LSSA would like to make legal practitioners aware that those who are registering for the upcoming LEAD (Legal Education and Development) Conveyancing Course will not have completed it in time for the first conveyancing examination sitting in February 2020. The reason is that in 2020, the LPC has brought forward the first examination sitting from April to February, while the LEAD course is scheduled to run from 01 February to 04 April 2020.

Practitioners writing the conveyancing examination in February are urged to enrol for the LEAD three-day exam preparatory course. Please see the details below:

City Dates in 2020 Times
Cape Town 17, 18 and 20 Feb 17:30 – 21:00
Durban 17, 18 and 20 Feb 17:30 – 21:00
Pretoria 12, 13, 14 Feb 2020 15:00 – 18:00

Cost: R800
Contact: Molalatladi Modiba on Tel +27 (0)12 441 4655 or molalatladi@LSSALEAD.org.za.

Click here to download brochure

The possibility of extending the three-day course to other areas is being investigated.

Read more about the conveyancing task team here.
 

Call for comments – Proposed amendments to Magistrates’ Courts rule 67 (Criminal Appeals)

The Rules Board for Courts of Law invites comments on proposed amendments to Rule 67 of the Magistrates’ Courts Rules. These proposals deal with the time frame for noting criminal appeals and for the manner in which notices in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act may be sent.

The proposed amendments can be viewed here.

Practitioners are invited to furnish the LSSA with their comment by 18 February 2020 by emailing Kris Devan at kris@LSSA.org.za You can also send comment directly to the Rules Board.

 

Implementation of the CaseLines System in the Gauteng Division of the High Court

The Gauteng Division of the High Court, Pretoria and Johannesburg, is implementing a digital / electronic case management and litigation system, called the CaseLines system. The full implementation of the system will take effect from 27 January 2020.

The Judge President issued Practice Directive 1 of 2020 in terms whereof the Registrars are directed to create cases on CaseLines. Legal representatives will then upload the necessary case record and / or relevant documents onto the cases created on the system. Please note that NO hardcopy pleadings or other documents will be allowed on cases designated for the CaseLines system.

The Judge President also issued a CaseLines Quick Reference Guide.

This is an important Practice Directive and legal practitioners are urged to be fully acquainted with it.

Click here to view the Practice Directive.

Click here to view the Reference Guide.