An early draft of the Legal Practice Bill, in which paralegals are recognized.
This is a first draft of the Legal Practice Bill which is released for comment. It is not complete and should be regarded as a draft in progress. Certain sections have not yet been drafted because they concern issues in respect of which the Department is awaiting comment from the Law Societies. Examples of such issues are the regulation of conveyancing practice and transitional arrangements with regard to the transfer of the powers, functions and assets of the four provincial law societies which presently exist in terms of the Attorneys Act 1979. The Department is also awaiting comment on certain issues from the National Paralegal Institute. The publication of this draft in progress is part of the consultative process around the formulation and enactment of legislation to regulate legal practice. It follows the National Legal Forum on Legal Practice which took place in Pretoria in November 1999 and is based on the consensus reached at that Forum. At the Forum consensus was reached on the following issues: All legal practitioners and paralegal practitioners should be regulated in terms of one statute. There should be one statutory regulatory body. The freedom on the part of legal practitioners and paralegal practitioners to practise as members of professional voluntary associations would be respected. All legal practitioners would be required to complete one year of post-graduate practical vocational training in order to qualify for registration and admission to practice and as wide a range of practical training options as is possible will be provided (the draft provides for this to be done by regulation). Formal admission exams should be replaced by a more flexible form of evaluation of the skills acquired during the course of practical vocational training. Any legal practitioner who receives, holds or handles funds belonging to a client or member of the public (including a deposit taken on account of fees and disbursements in respect off services to be rendered) must operate a trust account and be in possession of a Fidelity Fund certificate. Written comments may be forwarded to – The Directorate: Parliamentary Legislation (for the attention of Ms P Naidoo).