Justice and correctional services minister Michael Masutha on Tuesday announced the commencement of nominations for the election of the South African Legal Practice Council – in line with the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014.
The implementation of the act will bring into operation a single unified statutory Legal Practice Council that will regulate all legal practitioners, candidate legal practitioners and juristic entities for the first time in the history of South Africa, according to the department of justice.
“The Legal Practice Council which must, by law, be established by November 1 2018, will exist as a national body with provincial structures throughout the nine provinces. The provincial structures will be established after the national body has been finalised,” Masutha told journalists in Pretoria.
“The Legal Practice Council replaces the four statutory provincial law societies which have to date fulfilled the dual purpose of regulating and representing attorneys. Advocates and attorneys will now be regulated by the Legal Practice Council. Bar associations will no longer have the responsibility to regulate the profession. They can, however, continue to exist as voluntary associations to advance any non-statutory interests of the profession.”
The Legal Practice Act requires that the council reflects the country’s gender and racial demographics in all its structures.
“This excludes racial representivity with respect to advocates as there are not enough advocates in all the provinces,” said Masutha.
He said the council is “an important milestone” in the transformation of the legal profession in South Africa.
“Among other things, it will have the following benefits: The establishment of the community service through which aspirant and serving legal practitioners will be required to perform community service to increase access to justice, the enhancement of the accountability arrangements of the legal profession through the establishment of the legal service ombud,” said Masutha.
He said the council will also transform the dispensation for the conferral of senior counsel status or silk status through the creation of a transparent nomination process which is based on the expertise and experience of legal practitioners.
“I would like to express my gratitude to advocate Moroka and her team in the national forum for their work in preparing for the establishment of the Legal Practice Council, including preparing for regulations governing the affairs of the council which were approved by Parliament on August 29 2018,” said Masutha.
“Members of the profession are invited to interact with the national forum under the leadership of advocate Kgomotso Moroka for details of the nomination procedures as spelt out in the act. It is worth noting that by law, the Legal Practice Council must be fully established by November 1 2018.”