The National Forum of Advocates (NFA) “urgently” called on Justice Minister Michael Masutha on Tuesday to reject recommendations by the National Forum on the Legal Profession (NFLP) on how to constitute the South African Legal Practice Council before the Legal Practice Act (LPA) comes into force in 2018.
The council, according to NFA spokesperson advocate Jurg Prinsloo SC, will be made up of 23 people and could take office by September.
At the NFLP’s November meeting, it was resolved when election to the council was finalised that “the compulsory race quotas and gender quotas” should be four black female and three black male attorneys, one white female and two white male attorneys, as well as two black female and male advocates, and one white female and male advocate.
“This is the future national controlling body of the whole legal profession,” Prinsloo said. “So we say it should be democratic, there shouldn’t be any quotas. You can’t say that you are electing people and then prescribe what they should look like, to what race they belong, what gender they should be.”
Prinsloo said SA was supposed to be a nonracist, nonsexist democratic society and legal practitioners should be allowed to vote for the best candidates. He added that the race and gender quotas were in conflict with recent judgments by the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court.
“This isn’t a job people are applying for, this is for control of the whole profession and you should elect the very, very, best of the best; especially when it comes to the law profession,” Prinsloo said, noting that once the Act came into effect it would be the first time in SA’s history that advocates would not be self-regulating.
Advocate Kgomotso Moroka SC, NLFP chairperson, was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
However, in May 2015 at the launch of the NFLP, Masutha said the legal profession was a troubled profession with transformation moving slowly.
The deadline for the NFLP’s submission is February 1. It will meet again on January 28 to see if the deadline can be met, or if it must ask Masutha for an extension, which he may grant at his discretion.
It may be needed, as Prinsloo said the NFA would consider challenging the issue in court if the NLFP did not heed its call.