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.
Acting Executive Director, Law Society of South Africa
LSSA Advisory 25 February 2020