President Jacob Zuma has signed a proclamation to implement part 1 and 2 of Chapter 10 of the Legal Practice Act, 2014. The proclamation was published on 23 January 2015 in Government Gazette.
Furthermore, the president has set 1 February 2015 as a fixed date for the commencement of the relevant provisions in Chapter 10 of the Act.
Chapter 10 of this Act provides for the establishment, functioning and mandate of the National Forum on the Legal Profession. The National Forum has a lifespan of three years within which to complete its statutory mandate. Broadly speaking, the mandate of this Forum is to put systems and procedures in place in preparation for the full implementation of the Act.
The Act has been structured in such a manner which requires an incremental approach for purposes of its implementation. This was done expressly in order for the legal profession to deliberate on some aspects relating to the regulation of the legal profession which still require attention.
The National Forum is required to make recommendations to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Advocate Michael Masutha, MP on these aspects within two years of the commencement of Chapter 10 and the Minister must make regulations in this regard, giving the recommendations the status of law. The Minister may extend the two year period if he deems it necessary. However, if the National Forum fails to come up with recommendations within the two year or extended period, the Minister is obliged to make regulations on the aspects in question, after consultation with the National Forum.
The National Forum consists mostly of representatives of the legal profession, namely attorneys and advocates, 16 in all. It will, however, also have other relevant stakeholders, that are representatives of the South African Law Deans Association, representing the academia, Legal Aid South Africa and the Board of Control of the Attorneys Fidelity Fund, in addition to the two persons designated by the Minister.
The mandate of the National Forum is, among others, to make recommendations on the following:
an election procedure for purposes of constituting the permanent South African Legal Practice Council, established by the Act in order to regulate the legal profession;
establishment, composition and powers and functions of the provincial councils and the election thereof; and
practical vocational training requirements of candidate attorneys and pupils, before they can be admitted by the court as attorneys and advocates.
prepare and publish a code of conduct for members of the legal profession.
One of the first steps after the commencement of these provisions on 1 February 2015 is to constitute the National Forum and convene its first meeting, at which the chairperson and deputy chairperson will be designated by the Minister, after consultation with all the members of the Forum. In preparation for this important occasion, the Minister has written to all the organisations or bodies which are to be represented on the National Forum, requesting them to designate their representatives. On receipt of all nominations, a date will be set for the historic first meeting of the National Forum which, in turn, will mark the beginning of a further phase in the transformation of the legal profession.
It is trusted that the deliberations of the Forum will facilitate consensus on the remaining issues that are still required to be dealt with as set out in the Act.
For media enquiries:
Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS