THE ASSOCIATION OF LAW SOCIETIES OF THE RSA
4 March 1998
SHERIFFS AMENDMENT BILL (B 2-98)
The Association of Law Societies has considered the contents of the Bill and has resolved that the department be furnished with a copy of a letter that Mr Chris du Plessis wrote to the working group on rationalisation of the sheriffs' profession, which letter was dated 1 September 1997. A copy is attached.
The ALS urges the Portfolio Committee to consider the proposals made by Mr Du Plessis which carries the full support of the ALS.
In respect of the Bill itself we have the following comments:
This section should specifically provide for the appointment of attorneys to be nominated by the provincial law societies as attorneys directly instruct sheriffs, understand their work and are the main users of their services.
When attorneys are authorised to serve documents as suggested in Mr Du Plessis's letter. the attorneys should be exempted from the provisions of section 30.
The same remark as in paragraph 2 is applicable.
DIRECTOR: PROFESSIONAL AFFAIRS
DU PLESSIS & EKSTEEN INGELYF
RATIONALISATION OF THE SHERIFF'S PROFESSION
At our last meeting on 17 July 1997 the Association of Law Societies were requested to make written proposals regarding certain outstanding issues.
A meeting of the Standing Committees of the High Court and Magistrate's Court took place on 1 August 1997 and I have been instructed to submit the proposals set out below to you. In order to enable members of the Taskgroup to prepare themselves, we suggest that this document be circulated beforehand to all its members.
a. The ALS is mindful of the fact and accepts that representivity should take place in the Sheriff's profession. The ALS will also support the training of new sheriffs and proposals below.
b. The proposals should be seen as a whole. It would, in our view, be incorrect to implement only part of our proposals.
c. Attorneys and their employees should be allowed to serve all court documents and processes, including summonses, warrants and orders. The documentation should not only be restricted to the firm's own documents but any other documents as well.
d. Attorneys, their employees and all sheriff's should be allowed to serve documents outside their areas provided that there must be no penalty to the client or debtor.
e. Attorneys and sheriffs must be allowed to form partnerships or incorporated companies, on their own or with each other. It is not suggested that the professions should merge.
f. Section 53 must be scrapped and sheriffs be allowed to practice any other profession or occupation.
g. Any number of Sheriffs, or partnerships of sheriffs must be allowed as a right to practice in a particular area. They will then be in competition with each other and the attorneys. If a qualified person wants to open an office in a particular place, he or she must, as his/her right, be allowed to do so.
h. If any person wants to become a sheriff he has to do the following:
- do one year of practical training as a candidate with an existing attorney or sheriff.
- attend a course (alternatively a correspondence course) and pass the exams set by the Board of Sheriffs.
i. If the above proposals are accepted, the attorneys profession will immediately
- Fill the 65 vacant posts with suitable black attorneys where possible.
- If black attorneys are not available, the vacant posts will be served by black candidates who will work for attorneys under their supervision and control. This will solve problems regarding fidelity insurance, transport, infrastructure and capital. After qualification these candidates would be free to practice on their own, if they so wish.
- Draw from the vast pool of black candidate attorneys and black attorneys for a sufficient number of qualified persons who can serve as sheriffs in any area, in partnership with attorneys, as sole practitioner, or in partnership with other sheriffs.
- Attorneys and sheriffs will in the longer term continue to take in candidate sheriffs who will undergo practical training and will have to attend a course (or correspondence course) and pass an examination.
j. Black sheriffs must be supported financially and with sufficient work. We suggest that funds which have been mentioned during discussions be used for this purpose. We will not raise any objection to a proposal that parastatals (Telkom, Receiver of Revenue, Sasol, Transnet etc.) be requested to instruct attorneys to make use of black sheriffs. Black candidate sheriffs would have the tremendous advantage of knowing the language of many of the persons on whom they serve documents and would be in great demand by attorneys
k. The premises of the Practical Legal Schools countrywide are at the disposal of the Board of Sheriffs at nominal costs. This has been said before. Some classes may even be combined with that of candidate attorneys.
l. The Syllabus must include the Magistrate's Court Act and Rules, the Supreme Court Act and Rules, Accounting and financial management. We, having the experience are willing to design a course in cooperation with the Institute or Board.
m. The attorneys do not want to lake over the sheriff's profession and be the cause that existing sheriffs go out of business. Attorneys do not think that the existing sheriffs will go out of business. The pool of work will without doubt become bigger as a result of the above proposals. We have no doubt that existing sheriffs will have to improve the standard of their service.
n. The attorneys will take the responsibility of making the above proposals work and will ensure that representivity is achieved as soon as possible.