Province’s Jali elected to new SA legal council
Eastern Cape attorney Nolitha Jali has been appointed as one of 16 people who will be on the newly formed Legal Practice Council.
Jali, 44, who is originally from King William’s Town, has been in the legal field for 15 years.
The council is made up of 10 attorneys and six advocates, with Jali, one of nearly 80 nominess, the only attorney from the Eastern Cape.
Jali is a practising attorney and heads up the Legal Aid SA Mthatha local office.
The office is responsible for providing legal assistance and paralegal services to the indigent in the former Transkei towns including Mthatha, Tsolo, Ngcobo, Mqanduli, Ngqeleni, Libode, KwaBhaca (formerly Mount Frere), Bizana and Lusikisiki.
Speaking to the Dispatch on Thursday, a modest Jali said she was excited about her new role.
“Bodies like the General Council of the Bar and Law Society of SA (LSSA) can and will still exist as voluntary associations and perform the union function or be the voice of the profession,” she said.
Jali said one of the council’s first tasks would be to set up provincial structures.
“The Legal Practice Act states that there must be nine provincial structures. The council will form provincial councils to replace the statutory law societies,” she said.
Jali said some of the council’s functions would be to ensure that fees charged by legal practitioners for legal services rendered were reasonable, to promote access to legal service.
“By doing so, we will be able to enhance access to justice, to promote and protect the public interest, to promote access to the legal profession and to regulate all legal practitioners and all candidate legal practitioners,” she said.
Black Lawyers Association national executive committee member and head of policy and legislation, Bayethe Maswazi, said the new council was important because attorneys were self-regulatory and advocates “existed as loose cannons unregulated”.
He said the LPC would come into effect from November 1, followed by elections to appoint provincial committee members.
“This is all happening in chapters. The fact that the profession has been regulated by acts from the 1970s is sufficient cause for change.
“The Attorneys Act of 1979 and the Admission of Advocates Act will be repealed and the LPC is established in line with chapter 1 of the Legal Practice Act.
“One of the responsibilities of the LPC is to facilitate the goal of transforming the legal profes- sion,” he said.
Members of the public who have complaints or want to verify information regarding attorneys in the Eastern Cape will no longer approach the Cape Law Society because it will cease to exist.
As time goes on, there will also be a legal services ombudsman who will probably be a retired judge.
“The objective is to cater for people who may want a body independent of the LPC if they have grievances and the LPC fails to satisfy them,” he said.