Attorneys Amendment Bill

The legal profession in this country remains an un-level and non-uniform playing field.

The profession, it can be said, “has had it too good for too long” From the exorbitant legal fees charged by Senior Counsel and established law firms to the non- cooperation of some law societies which see lawyers protected at client expense and strife. With Senior Counsel charging anywhere between twenty and fifty thousand per day, and this excludes the daily fee of the instructing attorney,
we see adequate legal redress beyond the grasp of the all except the very wealthy in our society. We need to level the playing field.

This Bill is a necessary ad hoc measure and will bring urgent relief through its regulatory framework to citizens who have been the victims of unprofessional conduct by unscrupulous attorneys who are registered and being protected from censure and sanction at former TBVC law societies. The Law Society of Bophuthatswana is a particular case in point. The Bill will also regulate and address disparities in relation to attorneys and candidate attorneys in the territories comprising the former TBVC Republics.

When you have a candidate attorney, who is not even required to undergo practical legal training as part of his or her articles of clerkship, you are inviting disaster, the victims being the clients these candidate attorneys represent in our courts and ultimately the candidate attorneys themselves, for without a proper practical foundation into South African legal practice, one can never hope to build a successful career in law.

The IFP supports the Bill and the efforts of the Department in addressing the rationalisation of the legal profession. Our legal profession must be able to be held to public account, scrutiny and sanction- as it remains a field in which the ordinary citizen has little knowledge and is left largely at the mercy of his or her legal representatives.

I thank you.

Prof CT Msimang, MP