|The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) recognises that the legal profession is an honourable profession practiced by honest men and women of unimpeachable integrity. Only people who satisfy the qualities of “fit and proper” are the ones who qualify to enter and remain in the legal profession. The minimum requirements for admission in the profession is demonstration of possession of acceptable knowledge and skill in the field of law by passing LLB Degree, undergoing practical vocational training and passing of the attorneys’ admission examination. This is the assurance that legal practitioners are suitable to be entrusted with the cases of the members of public. Further, the public has faith in the legal profession because it maintains high moral, ethical and training standards as well as unquestionable integrity of its members.
Members and aspirant members of the legal profession are required to act ethically and honestly in all their dealings and conduct, otherwise they bring disrepute to the profession. Candidate attorneys when writing their examinations are expected to conduct themselves with utmost honesty without cheating or getting unacceptable assistance which will place them at an unfair advantage when compared with others. Examination cheating by candidate attorneys is unacceptable and must never be condoned under any circumstances. Members of public, when instructing attorneys, must be confident that they are dealing with people of integrity and who possess the minimum competency and skills.
Pursuant to the meeting between the BLA and the Law Society of South Africa (the LSSA) of the 03rd September 2018 BLA is satisfied that evidence at the disposal of the LSSA’s examination committee that all four attorneys’ admission examinations papers for August 2018 leaked is credible and endorses that the examination be rewritten. The breach of examination security has compromised the integrity of the entire examination process such that nullifying the said examination and order a rewrite is the only reasonable mechanism available to protect the integrity of the many faithful candidate attorneys and that of the legal profession. This way public is assured that the legal profession does not tolerate dishonest behaviour by people who are expected to be the custodian of our Constitution and the Rule of Law. Legitimacy of the legal profession lies in the confidence it enjoys with members of public.
BLA is deeply troubled by the fact that rewriting of the examination will have negative impact on the honest hard working candidate attorneys who did not participate in this ordeal. The whole leak points back to the LSSA security and risk management systems. It is highly probable that this leak was an inside job. We call upon the LSSA to find the culprits herein and bring them to justice. Investigation must start with the law society officials who are entrusted with the safe processing and keeping of examination papers.
Recognising that the rewriting of the examination will come at great expense and inconvenience to many candidate attorneys BLA calls upon the LSSA to allow all candidate attorneys to write this examination without paying further administration fees and at the examination centres of their choice.
The examinations will be rewritten during October 2018 on the dates to be announced by the LSSA examination committee soon.