JOHANNESBURG - Justice Minister Jeff Radebe on Monday morning said the transformation of state legal services was a matter of urgency as a way of bringing equality to the sector and helping previously disadvantaged practitioners.
It comes amid an uproar over the minister's plans to abolish bar councils and the law society and replacing them with a state-controlled institution.
Radebe was presenting government's policy framework document on transformation at a New Age business breakfast on Monday.
The plans are contained in the Legal Practice Bill which was resubmitted to parliament last week.
“The transformation of the judicial system and of the judiciary in particular would be incomplete without the transformation of the legal profession. They are the two sides of the same coin.”
He said female practitioners are being overlooked due to gender preferences.
“The primary objective of this policy framework in the medium term is to consolidate and streamline all legal services under a single functionary, who will be appointed as head of state legal services.”
Meanwhile, the General Bar Council of South Africa said it would fight any plans to challenge the independence of the legal professional.
“Once you allow that to happen it will take decades to win the right back,” said Council Chair Gerrit Pretorius. “We will protect that with all our might.”
“We just want to make 110 percent sure that there is no state control.”
(Edited by Clare Matthes)