Our firm contributes to solving South Africa’s developmental challenges by promoting constitutional values and facilitating access to justice for the disadvantaged and vulnerable. With so many social ills in our young democracy and the African region as a whole, as members of the legal profession we are committed to positively respond to the call by our South African government and the people of this nation, to ensure that the constitutional promise of access to justice is available even to the people who are unable to afford.
We look for opportunities to make the biggest impact and for the effects of our pro bono work to ripple through the communities we serve to the heart of our societal problems.
We help non-profit organisations so that they in turn can help others. We collaborate with various organisations to assist businesses and start-ups, especially in rural and township areas. We support pro bono clinics and assist non-profit organisations with their registration and compliance issues. We assist individuals to access the justice system, providing legal advice to those in the most desperate need.
PRO BONO SERVICES ENDORSED BY THE LEGAL PRACTICE COUNCIL
The Law Society then, now the Legal Practice Council introduced the Pro BonoScheme in 2008 in terms of which free legal services are made available to indigent persons who cannot otherwise afford the services of attorneys.
In terms of this scheme, all practising legal practitioners (Attorneys and Advocates) are to avail themselves to render legal services for the least 24 hours per year free of charge and the work by legal practitioners is overseen by the Legal Practice Council. To qualify for free legal assistance, a person must comply with a means test and have a legal problem with merit.
In a matter attended to on a pro bono basis, the client is responsible for the cost of disbursements (actual expenses), i.e. Sheriff’s fees and the legal practitioner will not charge any fees for the legal work provided.
Services rendered in terms of the Pro Bono Scheme include, but are not limited to the following:
- Alternative Dispute Resolution – Arbitration & Mediation
- Civil Litigation, which includes High Court as well as Magistrate Court litigation;
- Civil Law;
- Criminal Litigation, which includes High Court as well as Magistrate Court;
- Family Law / Matrimonial matter, including divorce matter, maintenance matters, primary care and residence and access;
- Labour Law matters, including appearances at the CCMA or other bargaining councils as well as Labour Court and Labour Appeal Court matters;
- Deceased estates and relating thereto;
- Insolvency, including Debt counselling;
- Property Law and matters related thereto (Conveyancing and Property litigation);
- Constitutional matters;
- Information sessions given by an attorney to indigent people on any specific area of Law (Legal Education);
- Contract Law;
- Intellectual Property and many more;
First Interview Scheme
The Legal Practice Council also operates a First Interview Scheme to make attorneys’ services more readily available to members of the public. Under the scheme, an attorney will carry out an initial interview with any member of the public at no charge for the first half an hour.
This scheme was introduced to assist those members of the public who would not normally make use of the services of an attorney, or who may hesitate to consult an attorney for legal fear of the possible high fees resulting from their services or do not qualify for pro bono assistance.
The purpose of the interview is for the attorney to advise whether a person has a legitimate case in a specific matter or not, i.e. legal advice or information relating to the merits of the case. Only the first interview is free of charge. Any legal steps which may then be initially taken, or any further consultations arising from the interview, are payable at the normal tariff, which must be agreed upon between the parties. The client will then become a paying client of the attorney. It is voluntary for a legal practitioner to accept first interviews, members of the public may receive more information on the above from the Legal Practice Council.
Services on a Contingency Fee Basis
In addition to the above, the Legal Practice Council also has a list of attorneys who are prepared to undertake civil litigation on a contingency fee basis for persons who may not qualify for pro bono assistance (subject to the statutory provisions which may apply). This litigation will then be attended to on a ‘’no win no fee’’ basis by the attorney. For more details on the Pro Bono Scheme of the Legal Practice Council please contact them on (012) 338 5800 (RSA line) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org