Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
26 November 2019
Draft regulations on community service for legal practitioners are in the pipeline.
The deputy minister of justice and constitutional development, John Jeffery, confirmed this during an address at the South African University Law Clinics Association (SAULCA) Workshop 2019 held in Broederstroom.
He had been asked to comment on whether legal practitioners under the Legal Practice Act should offer pro bono work.
The deputy minister pointed out that pro bono service and community service are distinct from each other and that the Legal Practice Act does not refer to “pro bono work” but uses the term “community service”.
Section 29 of the act provides that community service may be a part of practical vocational training or a requirement for the continued enrolment as a legal practitioner.
“The details thereof, such as the duration of such service, the places where such service must be rendered and all other requirements, must be prescribed by regulations, to be made by the Minister after consultation with the Legal Practice Council.”
The draft regulations will be published for comment soon.
The deputy minister also pointed out that the department was currently working on a draft policy paper on the Community Advice Office sector and the regulation of community-based paralegals.
The draft policy will be presented at a national consultative workshop for the CAO sector and other stakeholders and will be followed by a White Paper.
Meanwhile, speaking at the AGM of the Council for Debt Collectors held in Muldersdrift, the deputy minister indicated that a Draft Debt Collectors Amendment Bill is likely to be included in the department’s 2020 legislative programme.
A draft bill was published for comment in 2015.
According to the deputy minister, the further promotion of the draft bill will be “relatively straight-forward if the Bill does not include the compulsory registration of attorneys as debt collectors in terms of the Act”.
A Draft Judicial Matters Amendment Bill also contains an amendment to section 3 of the Debt Collectors Act of 1998, “so as to increase the term of office of members of the Council for Debt Collectors from a maximum of three years to a maximum of 5 years and to provide that such a member is eligible for reappointment but for one additional term only. This will promote continuity and efficiency”.
Speaking at an Association of Regional Magistrates of Southern Africa (ARMSA)’s Annual General Conference held in Muldersdrift, the deputy minister announced that the department will be bringing amendments to the Sexual Offences Act early next year proposing that offenders with any conviction for a sexual offence should be included in the National Register for Sex Offenders.
Currently the act provides that only names of people convicted of sexual offences against children or persons with mental disabilities must be included in the register.
“Other important legislative developments that we are working on and which are vital to the fight against GBV include a Bill to establish a National Council on GBVF, amendments to provisions relating to bail to provide for more stringent measures and considerations in certain cases related to GBVF as well as possible amendments to sentencing laws to introduce stricter measures in certain GBVF related crimes.”