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

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

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.

 

Important circulars by the Chief Registrar of Deeds

The Chief Registrar of Deeds has issued the following circulars:

Chief Registrar’s Circular 5 of 2019, which deals with amendments to Regulation 68 and Forms JJJ and KKK. As from 2 January 2020, no certified copy of a deed may be issued by the Registrar without proof of publication of the notice prescribed in Regulation 68(1E). As copies of the deeds must be open for inspection in the deeds registry for two weeks from date of publication of the notice, an application for a certified copy can only be lodged after the two-week inspection period. The different deeds offices have different processes and practitioners are advised to also check the relevant deeds office’s circulars.

Regulation 79bis has also been amended to provide for the Registrars to inform the Surveyor General of the registration of general plans.

Chief Registrar’s Circular 6 of 2019 sets out the procedure to be following regarding the expediting of deeds.

Chief Registrar’s Circular 7 of 2019 deals with the alteration, amendment or substitution of registered sectional plans found to be incorrect.

The circulars can also be viewed here.