Some time ago the draft Code of Conduct was published for comment, the NBCSA lodged comments. On 29 March 2019, in the Government Gazette 42337 the final Code of Conduct was published. The Code is effective from date of publishing. The new Code, which now is law for legal practitioners, do not differ materially from the old one. The old code has 6 parts, the new one seven, because the “Legal Practitioners not in Private Practice” now has its own chapter/part.
There are 63 paragraphs, which is 5 less than the 68 in the old one. But the numbering changed, there are no major changes to the general trend. The uncertainties therefore still exist, perhaps the LPC thought that our submissions are not really that serious. In other words, robing is still not addressed, given, this might be because the LPC does not want to interfere with the powers of the courts to establish its own court mannerisms.
Other points of interest:
Par 35: counsel may sue an attorney or arbitration body, thus the court cases that had conflicting views, are laid to rest., for example Bertelsman v per.
The old par 15.2 reads that there is “no closed list of subject matter about which a brief may be accepted by counsel provided the brief does not require counsel to undertake work which is properly that of an attorney. In particular, counsel may accept a brief: [19 sub-items are listed]
This has been left unchanged,now in rule 23
Perhaps the lpc reads into the words “may accept a brief” as to not mean must accept a brief. In ther words I must not be briefed when I appear as presiding officer in an insolvency enquery, I may be briefed”. Just a warning: my views should not be construed as that of the nbcsa, nor am I giving legal advice!
Also unchanged see rule 36
Counsel shall dress appropriately when rendering services to or on behalf of a client. What is acceptable under “appropriate” dress, who will determine this? The dress code for advocates and attorneys were never regulated by any Act or Regulation in respect of the two professions. This specific aspect was previously regulated by the different Practice Directives of the different High Courts and the Rules of the various Bar Councils and Law Societies. See for instance Chapter 4 of the Practice Directive of Gauteng Local Division of the High Court Johannesburg operative since 1 March 2018. In terms of this directive, “properly dressed” is described as the appropriate black gown, plain black long sleeved jacket (not a waistcoat), white shirt or blouse closed at the neck, white jabot or bands, dark pants or skirt and black closed shoes.
No such directives apply to the Magistrates Courts, it is assumed that, because of this long standing practice as far as dress is concerned, that being the reason for the removal of “Robing in the lower Courts” from the draft Code of Conduct by the LPC.