Advisory Committee appointed to investigate legal fees

Monday, August 20, 2018

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha has appointed an Advisory Committee to assist the South African Law Reform Commission to investigate and make recommendations on the fees charged by the legal profession to clients. 

More specifically and as required by the Legal Practice Act, 2014, the committee will investigate and make recommendations on:

1: The circumstances that give rise to legal fees that are beyond the affordability of most people;

2: Legislative and other interventions in order to improve access to justice by members of the public;

3: The desirability of establishing a mechanism for determining fees and tariffs payable to legal practitioners, the composition of such a mechanism and the process it would follow in determining fees or tariffs;

4: The desirability of giving clients the option of negotiating fees with senior legal practitioners such as advocates;

5: The feasibility of determining the total cost of matters before the commencement of the brief and

6: The use of contingency fee arrangements in the promotion (or otherwise) of access to justice. 

The committee will commence with its work immediately and report to the Minister within a period of 24 months. 

In conducting its work, the committee will consider, among other factors, public interest, international best practice and the interest of the legal profession. 

The South African Law Reform Commission will also convene an international conference on legal fees in Durban from October 31 to 2 November later this year. 

The committee is composed of the following people:

  • Ms Rochelle Francis-Subbiah: Magistrate, Pretoria Magistrate Court;
  • Dr Fawzia Cassim: former Associate Professor, Department of Criminal and Civil Procedure: UNISA;
  • Dr Willem Henrik Gravett: Senior Lecturer, Department of Procedural Law, University of Pretoria
  • Mr. Vela Mdaka: Regional Operations Executive: Legal Aid South Africa
  • Advocate Thobeka Nkabinde: Office of the Chief Litigation Officer, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
  • Ms Trudy Zeelie, Registrar and Taxing Master, Office of the Chief Justice, High Court of South Africa and
  • Mr. Morne Osthuizen, Deputy Director: Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town.

“The Advisory Committee is part of a series of measures that government is continuing to take to ensure access to justice for all,” Minister Masutha said. –