The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) notes that legal practitioners queued at Sammy Marks Square in the Pretoria in order to take up the offer from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) to negotiate block settlements for accident victims.
The RAF sent a notice to legal practitioners indicating the dates and venues for block settlements. However, these negotiations would be on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Legal practitioners queued up since noon on Sunday, 18 June in order to be first in line on Monday, 19 June. On 19 June, the RAF offices remained closed and legal practitioners were informed that the offices will open on Tuesday, 20 June. Police were called in when legal practitioners refused to leave without being serviced.
The situation means that access to justice for accident victims is delayed as the victims wait for their compensation. In the past the RAF has facilitated block settlements, where legal practitioners were able take their files and negotiate a settlement. This was, however, done in a structured manner, with meetings scheduled for a specific date and time.
The RAF has a statutory duty to settle claims and, while the LSSA appreciates the efforts of the RAF for starting the block settlement process, this should be done in a manner that is fair and does not impede on access to justice or leave accident victims without recourse. The treatment of practitioners with disdain is uncalled for.
President of the LSSA, Eunice Masipa noted: ‘The queuing of legal practitioners, overnight, at Sammy Marks Square further shows the commitment of legal practitioners to serve their clients and ensure that accident victims receive their compensation.’
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA,
Ms Eunice Masipa
LSSA Communications Manager: Mapula Oliphant
Tel: (012) 366 8808
Cell: 076 026 5997