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DA: Statement by Dene Smuts, Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, on the Draft Legal Practice Bill (03/03/2010)

3rd March 2010


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Justice Minister Jeff Radebe's reply to my parliamentary question on the number of briefs handed to respectively black and white private advocates in 2008-2009 shows that the black professional associations' claim to entitlement to receive work from government is already met. Black advocates were issued nearly 70% of government briefs. (See reply below)

The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) said in January that government is obliged to give black lawyers work because private corporations do not.

In order to institutionalise this entitlement, the BLA wants the draft Legal Practice Bill to force law firms to adhere to BEE rules and employment equity requirements before they get government work. Most ominously, the draft Bill would also shut down the independent professional bodies which have served South Africa and the profession so well for so long - the Bar Councils and the Law Societies. In their place must come one vast legal body governed by a Council appointed by the Minister, who is of course constitutionally supposed to be separate and distinct as a member of the executive branch from the Courts, the arm of state which the legal profession serves.

The BLA in January was reported to be so "furious" at the delay in introducing the Bill that it threatened to launch a class action against the Minister together with Nadel (National Association of Democratic Lawyers). The two bodies apparently thought they could get the courts to force the Cabinet to table the Bill and Parliament to enact it. This extraordinary proposition surely explains why their members are not getting the work they desire.

The figures given in the reply show the whole enterprise is hollow. The Minister should not just delay the Bill, he should tear it up and throw it away.

Ms M Smuts (DA) to ask the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development:
1. Whether his department handed 4285 cases to private advocates in the course of its duties of providing legal advice services to all organs of State in the 2008-09 financial year; if so, how many cases were handed to (a) white, (b) black, (c) male and (d) female private advocates? nbsp; ; NW31E
I would like to advise the Honourable Member that my Department has issued 6458 briefs to private advocates during the 2008/9 financial year. Out of 6458 briefs, 4458 briefs went to black advocates and a total of 2000 briefs were issued to white advocates. Females received 1466 briefs, which translate to 23% of the total issued briefs.
Please refer to the table below for the detailed breakdown of the 2008/9 briefing statistics.
State Litigation - Number Of Briefs Per Race & Gender

Office Black Males Black Females White Males White Female Total

Bisho 649 44 95 18 806
Bloemfontein 63 27 60 15 165
Cape Town 134 105 87 66 392
Durban 335 245 45 18 643
Johannesburg 684 221 273 34 1212
Kimberly 12 30 12 15 69
Mafikeng 141 76 26 7 250
Port Elizabeth 215 38 173 33 459
Pretoria 1109 222 764 248 2343
Thohoyandou 104 4 11 0 119

Total 3446 1012 1546 454 6458

Note: Additional graphs are included in the reply and are available on request.



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