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Chairperson’s End Of Year Message 2017

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Dear Members

2017 was an active year for the National Bar Council of South Africa. We were blessed with a National Executive Committee that is ready to work and face challenges as well as the membership that is receptive to change.

Our membership has increased thus demonstrating our strength and that the principles espoused by the NBCSA are appealing to members of the legal profession. This year three regions in the Provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape were inaugurated as fully fledged regions of the NBCSA.

At this point it is critical to reflect on the inauguration of the Limpopo Region and the strides we have made as a Bar in fostering good relations with various stakeholders and organisations.   Our guest speaker at the inauguration of the Limpopo Region was the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, the Honourable Advocate T M Masutha. At the launch of the Limpopo Region some prominent luminaries represented various spheres of government. These luminaries included the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Honourable F. Muthambi, Deputy Speaker of the Limpopo Provincial Legislature, Honourable L. Masoga. It is also important to mention that during the inauguration of the Limpopo Region members of the legal fraternity represented various legal formations/ organisations which include, the Judiciary, Magistracy, members from other Bars, the Black Lawyers Association (BLA), National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL), State Attorney, Legal Aid South Africa, South African Women Lawyer’s Association (SAWLA) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).  The business community was also represented during the launch of the Limpopo Region of the NBCSA. These included Jaguar Land Rover and Old Mutual whom we sincerely thank for their financial assistance.

NBCSA now has fully fledged regions in the provinces of Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and the Western Cape. These regions are represented in the National Executive Committee. In 2018, we intend to inaugurate regional structures in the provinces of the Free State and the North West. It is important to mention that the National Bar Council of South Africa has members in the Free State Province and the North West Province.

Taking the helm of this iconic bar association was a great responsibility towards its members. Since its formation the National Bar Council of South Africa has always advocated the promotion of justice, access to the legal profession, access to justice and the transformation of the legal profession in South Africa.

The legacy that our predecessors laid and worked towards remains the cornerstone of the NBCSA. The National Bar Council of South Africa endures because of the transformation that we have allowed the association to undergo.

We close the year 2017 by looking on the successes we have achieved and challenges that we have faced together. At the beginning of this year we set ourselves targets which inter alia included fostering relations with the Executive, Judiciary, Legislature, other Bars, the State Attorney, Legal Aid South Africa, civil society and academic institutions.  This year we had the opportunity to meet Judge Presidents of the various Divisions of the High Court which include, the Western Cape Division of the High Court, Limpopo Division of the High Court, Mpumalanga Division of the High Court and the North and South Gauteng Division of the High Court. In the new year we intend to meet Judge Presidents of other Divisions which we were unable to meet during 2017.

We have also met some Heads of the State Attorney’s Office in Eastern Cape (Mthatha) and Johannesburg to discuss the issues pertinent to the legal profession. In 2018 we intend to meet the Heads of the State Attorney’s offices in other provinces. The National Bar Council of South Africa also participated in the signing of the Protocol on Briefing Patterns in South Africa.

The National Bar Council of South Africa was invited to address final LLB students of the Walter Sisulu University of Technology at Mthatha on the Implications of the Legal Practice Act on legal practitioners as well as aspirant legal practitioners.  In 2018 we intend to improve cooperation with academic institutions thus encouraging law students to participate in the transformation of the legal profession in South Africa as well as have an interest in the practice of law. As part of our Continuing Professional Development Programme, NBCSA is in talks with the Black Lawyers Association –Legal Education Centre (BLA- LEC) with a view of enabling members and pupils to participate in trial advocacy programmes offered by the BLA- LEC. We have also established a Pupillage Board comprising of representatives from the various regions to further enhance our pupillage programme.

At this juncture it is befitting to make a reflection on the Legal Practice Act. The Legal Practice Act, 2014 was passed to address various challenges in the legal profession, which include, the transformation of the profession as well as establishing a single regulatory body. In 2017, the Legal Practice Amendment Bill, 2017 was introduced to address a number of practical and technical matters in the implementation of the Legal Practice Act, 2014 and more specifically transition to the new dispensation as envisaged in the Act. The National Bar Council of South Africa made submissions to both the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services (National Assembly) and the Select Committee on Security and Justice (National Council of Provinces). At both the Portfolio Committee and the Select Committees, NBCSA made submissions on the amendment Bill and requested the Committees to address aspects of the Legal Practice Act, 2014 that do not form part of the Legal Practice Amendment Bill, 2017 before the Committees. The Portfolio Committee was of the view that ‘to include amendments that address these aspects as proposed by NBCSA would considerably delay the passage of the Legal Practice Amendment Bill, 2017”. The Committee was of the view that it was desirable for now to prioritise a smooth transition to the Legal Practice Council. The Committee asked the Department of Justice and Correctional Services to prepare another amendment Bill to address these submissions. Early in 2018 we will pursue this matter with the Department of Justice and Correctional Services.

We ended the year 2017 by attending the Dialogue on the Transformation of State Legal Services held on 13 December 2017, at Gallagher Estate, Johannesburg. The NBCSA was invited by the Department of Justice and Correctional Services to attend this event. The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services also requested to have a one-on –one meeting with the NBCSA to discuss matters which include transformation matters that must be considered for conferment of Senior Counsel status on some members of the NBCSA. We will keep members abreast of developments on this matter.

As we advance our transformative agenda in relation to the legal profession, we look forward to working closely with other role players in the legal profession and beyond. The NBCSA is an extraordinary association and it is a special privilege to be part of such an association. Lawyers have a special responsibility to promote the rule of law. Lawyers must ensure at all times that the independence of the legal profession is protected.

As the Chairperson of the National Bar Council of South Africa I thank all of you for your support as we work towards the transformation of the legal profession in South Africa

We look forward to working with you in 2018.

Bafo Momoti

National Chairperson

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