Law Society welcomes appointment of Fhedzisani Pandelani as Acting Solicitor-General

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) welcomes the appointment of Mr Fhedzisani Pandelani as Acting Solicitor-General. ‘We are confident that Mr Pandelani has the skill, conscientiousness, integrity and independence necessary to provide the control, direction and supervision over all offices of State Attorney. The attorneys’ profession commits to support Mr Pandelani in the interest of justice and the rule of law,’ says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

The State Attorney Amendment Act 13 of 2014, which came into effect on 3 February 2020, allows for the establishment of a Solicitor-General to oversee all litigation on behalf of the State.

According to the Justice Department, Mr Pandelani has been in practice for more than 20 years. He was admitted as an attorney in 1996 and has practiced in diverse areas of law, covering High Court, Labour Court and Magistrates Court litigation and is a skilled mediator and arbitrator. He is the current chairperson of the Gauteng Liquor Board and the chairperson of an external panel on appeals in terms of section 43 (5) National Environmental Management Act in Gauteng.

Mr Pandelani holds various qualifications from the University of the Witwatersrand including Baccalaureus Procurationis (B.Proc.) and LLB degrees as well as a Higher Diploma in Company Law. He has also lectured on various law modules through the Unisa Learning Centre and has for several years been an instructor at the Johannesburg School for Legal Practice.

‘Mr Pandelani’s curriculum vitae speaks for itself, we wish him the best in his new role,’ says Mr Notyesi.

Judgement reserved in Cape Bar vs Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and others

In this matter, the Cape Bar brought an application against Justice Minister Ronald Lamola for him to address what the Cape Bar views as ‘an irregularity’ which arose in the election of members of the Western Cape Provincial Council of the Legal Practice Council (LPC). The Cape Bar argued that a black male advocate was elected for the provincial LPC, over one of their members, a black female advocate, who received far more votes than her male counterpart.

In terms of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014, every Provincial Council (except Gauteng) comprises 6 attorneys and 4 advocates, of which 4 attorneys must be black and 2 white. Two advocates must be white and two black. Further, the Act provides that 50% of the members must be men, 50% must be women which means that only one black and one white female advocate will be appointed. The Cape Bar sought to have the provisions of the rules and regulations that allowed this, to be declared unlawful and invalid.

The Law Society of South Africa President, Mvuzo Notyesi, says that the LPA aims to promote diversity and transformation of the profession. ‘Without these provisions, the minority of practitioners –  being blacks and women – would not stand a chance of being nominated for such positions,’ he says, adding that: ‘The LPA regulations are not unlawful; they are needed to ensure that the previously disadvantaged are guaranteed a place in the local structures of the LPC and are also needed to make the profession more accessible to the minority.

LSSA legal team: Advocate Zaytoen Cornelissen and Ms Sonja Labuschagne, attorney and director at Barnard Labuschagne Inc t/a Ettienne Barnard Attorneys

 

 

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI  

LSSA Communications:

Nomfundo Jele nomfundom@LSSA.org.za  Tel: (012) 366 8800 or 072 402 6344

Law Society of South Africa supports 16 Days of Activism campaign for No Violence Against Women and Children

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) supports the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children. This international campaign runs annually from 25 November to 10 December and it opposes violence against women and children.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the negative impact that violence and abuse have on women and children and to rid society of such abuse.

South Africa has a history in the oppression of women. The inequality between men and women in their careers is endemic, the legal profession is no different from the patriarchal environment that practices inequality and the LSSA will continue to work on transforming the profession, including the equality of female lawyers.

The country witnesses the most harrowing violent acts of abuse committed on women and children, more so when it is performed by their loved ones, the very people who are supposed to protect them.

The recent campaign against femicide is part of this campaign, and it is apt to use the slogan in this campaign ‘you must be the change that you wish to see in the world’. All members of our society must join to eradicate this culture, which goes against our humanity and our African values.

‘We call on all citizens to commit to a community free of violence against women and children, beyond the 16 days,’ says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

Mr Notyesi adds: ‘The LSSA and its gender committee has been engaging with Legal Aid South Africa to facilitate the involvement of legal practitioners at educational and outreach events aimed at raising public awareness of rights and the legal system in the context of domestic violence, children’s rights and related matters.

 

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI
LSSA Communications:
Nomfundo Jele nomfundom@LSSA.org.za Tel: (012) 366 8800 or 072 402 6344
 

Law Society saddened at death of veteran radio personality Xolani Gwala

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) is saddened at the passing of radio presenter Xolani Gwala on 1 November 2019 at the age of 44.

Xolani succumbed to colon cancer after making his diagnosis public in September 2017.

‘Xolani Gwala was a passionate journalist who executed his duties without fear or favour. His insightful take on topical issues earned him the respect of listeners across the country. He had a brilliant mind that kept him on the cutting edge of the media. Xolani made sure that those who occupy positions of power are held accountable and he had a knack of getting his on-air guests to volunteer crucial information by treating them with respect even as he asked them difficult questions. We will miss his voice and his insight’, says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

Xolani Gwala was also one of the few journalists who engaged with the LSSA and was vocal on the legal profession’s briefing patterns.

We express our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
 

Unreasonable and unfair increased costs imposed on legal practitioners by regulatory bodies

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) is cognisant that the Legal Practice Council (LPC) and the Legal Practitioners Fidelity Fund (LPFF) are the two regulators in South Africa that regulate the legal profession in the public interest.

The LSSA appreciates, understands and respects the statutory functions enjoined to these two bodies in terms of the Legal Practice Act (LPA).

The LSSA’s constitution enshrines the rule of law as one of the key principles which the LSSA is committed to uphold and protect. The LSSA notes the regulatory function is based on the principle of the rule of law and cannot be exercised in a vacuum without consideration of the practitioners which the LPC and the LPFF are enjoined to regulate.

The LSSA is therefore concerned that recent proposals by the regulatory bodies has the potential to negatively impact on legal practitioners and may threaten access to and entry to the legal profession, as an unintended consequence of their proposals, viz.

The LPC in publishing rules that were placed in the recent Government gazette, that set levels of prescribed fees that in the view of the LSSA, as the representative body of the legal profession, is of serious concern in that:
•  The fees were published without engagement with the profession.
•  That the various levels proposed is arbitrary and irrational.
•  That there appears to be no consideration by the LPC of containing its costs or proposed alternative measures, (most law firms are currently implementing stringent cost containment measures, due to the current economic realities in our country).
•  That there is no financial basis provided for the establishment of these exorbitant increases.
•  The punitive amounts proposed for practitioners based on years of service, which is divorced from the economic reality of the practices of these attorneys.
•  That mere establishment of the various proposed levels based on demographics appears to be prejudicial and discriminatory.
•  The increased costs have the potential to negatively impact on some the transformation objectives of the LPA (this responsibility vests on both the regulator and the profession).

The LSSA has resolved to request the LPC not to implement the revised annual levies on law firms and practitioners, subject to engagement and agreed consensus with the LSSA on the levels of annual levies.

The LSSA therefore calls for urgent engagement with the LPC and has been requesting a meeting for some time now, with no commitment from the LPC to meet with the LSSA to deal with serious issues facing the profession.

The LSSA as a key stakeholder is willing and committed to engage on the various issues and seek resolution, as the legitimate body representing the attorneys’ profession and the LSSA will consider all remedies available to protect the interest of its members.

 The LSSA reminds all members to vociferously make their voices heard and their concerns known to the LPC and the public and to lodge these by 4 of November 2019, in terms of the notice placed in the Gazette by the LPC.

The LPFF has concomitantly also announced plans to levy legal practitioners for professional indemnity insurance, this is currently provided by the Legal Practitioners Insurance Indemnity Fund (LPIIF), of which the LPFF is the sole shareholder.
The estimate cost of PI insurance will eventually rise to above R10 000 p.a.
Similarly, this will also negatively impact on the cost of the profession as detailed above, in addition, there may be negative cost implications on the public, which in view of the LSSA is contrary to the objectives of the LPA.

The LSSA welcomes the decision by the LPFF to urgently consider to delay the proposed implementation of the recovery of the premiums payable for PI insurance, by a year.
In addition, the LPFF advised that the portal for legal practitioners to apply for their new Fidelity Fund certificates (FFC) will be opened shortly.

The LSSA is encouraged by the stance of the LPFF to engage with the LSSA and discuss options available to the LPIIF to address its underwriting losses, so that the financial impact on legal practitioners may be reduced.

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI
LSSA Communications:
Nomfundo Jele nomfundom@LSSA.org.za Tel: (012) 366 8800 or 072 402 6344

 

Editor’s note:

The Law Society of South Africa brings together its constituent members – the Black Lawyers Association, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and the provincial attorneys’ associations – in representing South Africa’s 27 200 attorneys and 6 600 candidate attorneys.
 

Law Society congratulates Springboks on Rugby World Cup victory

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) would like to congratulate the Springboks in their 2019 Rugby World Cup win.

The Springboks became Rugby World Cup champions after defeating England 32-12 in Yokohama, Japan, on Saturday 2 November.

‘The Boks, led by captain, Siya Kolisi and coach, Rassie Erasmus, not only won the World Cup, but also united our country. What a beautiful sight to see our rainbow nation stand together!’ The euphoria created by the sterling performance of the Boks have brought people of different races, cultures and walks of life together and united them for a common purpose,’ says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

He adds: ‘The whole team played exceptionally well. We would also like to congratulate Makazole Mapimpi for making history by becoming the first Springbok player to score a try in a Rugby World Cup final. We would also like to specifically mention Rassie Erasmus, who prepared the team under difficult conditions and circumstances. He demonstrated commitment to transform the rugby environment whilst focussing on talent. He focused on constitutional values, which demand equal opportunities and realising the potential of all South Africans. His ‘Coach of the Year’ award is very well deserved. We also extend our congratulations to the technical support team – operating in the background – that worked with the Springboks.’

Siya Kolisi became the third Springbok captain to lift the Webb Ellis Cup. The other two captains that led the Springboks to victory are Francois Pienaar and John Smith. This third World Cup title draws the Springboks level with the All Blacks for the most Rugby World Cup victories. Siya Kolisi is the first black captain in the world, to lead a team to a world cup victory.

‘We wish to express our gratitude to all Springbok fans across the globe for their loyal and passionate support to the team throughout the various stages of the Rugby World Cup. This is the motivation and inspiration they needed to be crowned world champions. The victory challenges all South Africans to work together for our country,’ concludes Mr Notyesi.

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI
LSSA Communications:
Nomfundo Jele nomfundom@LSSA.org.za Tel: (012) 366 8800 or 072 402 6344

Editor’s note:

The Law Society of South Africa brings together its constituent members – the Black Lawyers Association, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and the provincial attorneys’ associations – in representing South Africa’s 27 200 attorneys and 6 600 candidate
 

Law Society saddened at death of Eastern Cape attorney, Gordon Pope

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) is saddened at the untimely passing of King Williams Town attorney and legal education instructor, Gordon Pope, on 24 October 2019 at the age of 53.

Gordon’s passion was the legal profession and from the start he was involved with the Cape Law Society and the King Williams Town Attorney’s Association. He was currently serving as a member of the newly formed Legal Practice Council.

‘As we acknowledge Gordon’s contribution to the profession, we also acknowledge the immense loss to his firm, clients, and mostly to his family. We extend the condolences of the attorneys’ profession to his wife Helen Pope, and his children Emma and Jack,’ says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

Gordon was born in Cape Town on 13 February 1966. He attended a local primary school and then spent his high school years as a boarder at Grey High School in Port Elizbeth where he matriculated in 1983. As was the custom for young men at the time, Gordon had to do two years military service. He attained the rank of corporal.

Gordon attained his BA in 1988 and his LLB in 1991. He served his articles at Barnes and Ross (now Smith Tabata) in King Williams Town and was admitted as an attorney in March 1994. After 16 years with Smith Tabata, Gordon started his own law practice in 2009 and Pope Attorneys celebrated their tenth anniversary in June this year.

For the last number of years Gordon lectured at the University of Fort Hare and was an instructor at the LSSA Schools for Legal Education since 2005. He had a passion to teach candidate attorneys and was a strong advocate for the Schools for Legal Practice.

Gordon believed in skills development in the younger generation of attorneys and put these beliefs into action via his presenting of vocational training to others. He set an example to practitioners and remained faithful to these beliefs until the very end. In this way he contributed to access of the public to quality legal services.

He suffered a stroke while training and imparting knowledge to others. The profession salutes him.

 

Get your basic will drafted for free by an attorney during National Wills Week: 16 to 20 September 2019

Have you been recently divorced or widowed? Have you bought a new home? Have you been cohabitating with your partner for some time? Do you have a number of people that depend on you financially every month? If so, it is advisable to have a legally sound will
to ensure that there are not competing claims on your estate when you pass away.

As has become tradition over the past few years, members of the public will be able to have a basic will drafted by an attorney free of charge during National Wills Week from 16 to 20 September 2019. Attorneys’ firms throughout the country are participating in the National Wills Week project.

‘If you are a parent, a breadwinner, a homeowner and generally want to ensure that your affairs are in order, it is important that you have a valid will drafted by a professional. A valid will allows you to state your last wishes, who should inherit your assets and property, to appoint an executor of your choice for your estate and also a guardian for your minor children’, says Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

‘By ensuring that you have a valid will, you as the testator, can protect the interests of your loved ones and ensure that there is no delay in settling your estate after your death. It also ensures that your executor will act according to your wishes as set out in your will. A valid will allows you to state who should inherit your assets and property, to appoint an executor of your choice for your estate and also a guardian for your minor children,’ adds Mr Notyesi.

During National Wills Week from 16 to 20 September 2019, attorneys participating in the initiative will display posters with their contact details so that members of the public can make appointments with attorneys in their area. In addition, the contact details and addresses of all participating attorneys can be accessed on the LSSA website at www.LSSA.org.za.

What you should take to the attorney for your will to be drafted
• Your ID document
• A list of what you own (including specific personal items that you wish to bequeath to specific people)

Before you go to the attorney, think about
• Who must get what?
• Who should be the legal guardians of your minor children (those under 18)?
• Who should be the executor of your will? This could be your attorney or a close family member or friend. If you decide on a family member or friend, it is advisable also to nominate the attorney as co-executor as the attorney will deal with any legal issues.

Why should an attorney draft your will?
A practising attorney has the necessary knowledge and expertise to ensure that your will is valid by complying with all the legal requirements in the Wills Act and also that it complies with your wishes. An attorney can also advise you on any problem which may arise with your will and assist your executor. Often a will is not valid because the person who drafts it does not have the necessary legal knowledge to ensure that all the legal requirements of the Wills Act are met. These include the fact that the will must be in writing, it must be signed by the testator in the presence of at least two competent witnesses, and also signed by the witnesses.

What could happen to your estate if you die without a valid will?
If you die without leaving a valid will, your assets will be distributed according to the provisions of the Intestate Succession Act. These provisions are generally fair and ensure that your possessions are transferred to your spouse and children, and where applicable, to siblings, parents, and if required, then to the extended family in terms of degrees of relationships.

But, the following problems may arise if you die without leaving a will:
• Your assets may not be left to the person of your choice.
• It can take a longer time to have an executor appointed. The executor who is appointed may be somebody you may not have chosen yourself.
• There could be extra and unnecessary costs.
• There could be unhappiness and conflict among members of your family because there are no clear instructions on how to distribute your assets.

Where to find an attorney to draft your will:
The contact details of attorneys participating in the National Wills Week project can be accessed on the LSSA website at www.LSSA.org.za.

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI
LSSA Communications:
Nomfundo Jele nomfundom@LSSA.org.za Tel: (012) 366 8800 or 072 402 6344

 

Law Society welcomes President’s withdrawal of SA’s signature on SADC 2014 Protocol

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) welcomes the decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa to withdraw South Africa’s signature from the 2014 Protocol on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal in compliance with the Constitutional Court ruling.

In March 2015, in Law Society of South Africa and Others v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others, the LSSA launched an application in the High Court to declare the actions of former President Jacob Zuma as well as the Ministers of Justice and International Relations and Cooperation in voting for, signing and planning to ratify the SADC Summit Protocol in 2014 as it related to the SADC Tribunal, to be unconstitutional.

The 2014 Protocol deprived citizens in the SADC region – including South Africans – of the right to refer a dispute between citizens and their government to a regional court if they failed to find relief in their own courts. By signing the 2014 Protocol, former President Zuma infringed the right of South African citizens to access justice in terms of our Bill of Rights. The 2014 Protocol limited the jurisdiction of the SADC Tribunal to disputes only between member states – and no longer between individual citizens and the SADC member states – in the SADC region.

In March 2018 the Gauteng High Court: Pretoria, declared the President’s participation in the suspension of the operations of the SADC Tribunal and his signing of the 2014 Protocol to be unlawful, irrational and unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court confirmed this constitutional invalidity in December 2018.

The SADC tribunal is supposed to be a body that allows member states, and citizens access, should internal remedies fail them, but in 2014 when former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe did not want farmers who lost their farms to seek relief there, he convinced other states to sign a protocol that would prevent individuals from going to the tribunal.

‘The LSSA could not sit by silently and let this happen as we strongly believe in enhancing access to justice, which includes access to the courts. We are elated that our efforts were not in vain. The SADC summit in Tanzania noted South Africa’s withdrawal in compliance with the ConCourt ruling’, says LSSA President Mvuzo Notyesi.’

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI
LSSA Communications:
Nomfundo Jele nomfundom@LSSA.org.za Tel: (012) 366 8800 or 072 402 6344

 

Apex court dismisses Proxi Smart’s leave to appeal application with costs

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) is ecstatic at the dismissal by the Constitutional Court of the application for leave to appeal in the matter of Proxi Smart Services (Pty) Limited vs the Law Society of South Africa and Others.

The matter was dismissed in early August. In the court order, the ConCourt concluded that ‘given the procedural insufficiencies in the applicant’s case, it is not in the interests of justice for it to adjudicate the issue on these papers’.

Proxi Smart Services (Pty) Limited applied to the Gauteng Division of the High Court for declaratory relief regarding the lawfulness of its business model for performing the administrative and related services pertaining to property transfers that it contended was not by law reserved to conveyancers or legal practitioners. The LSSA contended that the applicant’s attempt at creating a distinction between ‘reserved work’ and ‘non-reserved work’ had no basis in law, and that the full conveyancing process is regarded as professional work performed by conveyancers.

‘We are very happy with the judgement. The ConCourt order confirms the High Court’s order that the applicant has not made out a case for the relief it sought. We are hopeful that this order brings the matter to a conclusion’, says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi. He adds: ‘We would like to thank our legal team for their brilliant work, our attorneys at Maponya Attorneys as well as Advocate Allen Liversage SC and Advocate Lerato Maite.’

The matter was first dismissed by the High Court in February 2018 and denied the applicant leave to appeal in December 2018. The applicant then filed an application with the Supreme Court of Appeal, which was dismissed this May.

View all the Proxi Smart matter documents on the LSSA website: http://www.lssa.org.za/about-us/matters/proxismart-services-pty-ltd

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI
LSSA Communications:
Nomfundo Jele nomfundom@LSSA.org.za Tel: (012) 366 8800 or 072 402 6344