LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA
4 March 1998
ATTORNEYS AMENDMENT BILL, 1998
I acknowledge receipt of your letter of 17 February 1998 which we received on 2 March 1998.
We have earlier, through the normal parliamentary channels also received a copy of the Bill which we circulated to the provincial law societies and to the Attorneys Fidelity Fund.
As you are aware of the rationalisation process will hopefully come to finalisation towards the middle of this month.
I have referred your letter to my president and after feedback received from the provincial law societies, the Association of Law Societies supports the purpose and the contents of the Bill.
From the Cape law society we have received the following comment of a purely technical nature:
"There seems however to be some anomaly in relation to the proposed amendment to section 55 of the Act. In the draft versions, there was no connecting and between (aa) and (bb). Is it intended to amend the Act so that a practising practitioner is only defined as a person who not only is required to have a certificate but also is already in possession of one? The same does not apply to practitioners outside the 4 areas mentioned. This appears to be inconsistent.
Under the Savings clause, the wording of subsection (3) could perhaps be tightened. It is not clear whether the reference is to subsection (1) of the Savings Clause, or subsection (1) of section 55."
Thanking for referring the Bill to us for comment.
DIRECTOR: PROFESSIONAL AFFAIRS
LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA
THE ATTORNEYS AMENDMENT BILL (B7-98)
I refer to the press statement issued by your chairman requesting comments by 27 March 1998. We apologise for the late submitting of these comments. Attached to this letter, please find a copy of a letter written to Dr A M Omar MP, the Minister of Justice, in response to a letter that he wrote to us.
Since we wrote that letter another problem regarding the contents of the Bill has come to our attention.
Section 3 of the Bill makes the Attorneys Act applicable to persons practising in the former areas of the Republic of Transkei, Bophuthatswana or Ciskei. It further states that any person who practises in the former Republic of Transkei or Ciskei will fall under the jurisdiction of the Cape law society and any person who practises in the former Republic of Bophuthatswana or Venda will fall under the jurisdiction of the Law Society of the Transvaal. It then also extends fidelity fund cover to the clients of those persons which cover presently does not exist.
The Law Society of the Free State, however, has pointed out that there are seven attorneys practising in Thaba Nchu which forms part of Bophuthatswana. Thaba Nchu is 50 kilometres from Bloemfontein and 450 kilometres from Pretoria, where the office of the Transvaal law society is situated. A request has been received from attorney's practising in Thaba Nchu that they should resort under the jurisdiction of the Law Society of the Free State and not under the jurisdiction of the Transvaal law society as is contemplated in the Bill.
This proposal carries the support of the council of the Law Society of the Free State as well as that of the Black Lawyers Association and NADEL.
We wish to enquire whether the Bill could be amended to provide for those attorneys. If we can submit any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.