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The Legal Practice Council to act decisively against legal practitioners who undermine courts

The Legal Practice Council (LPC) has noted a judgement by the Mpumalanga High Court in which the Judge President expressed grave concerns about the conduct of two legal practitioners.

“As the regulatory body of the legal profession in South Africa, we believe that all legal practitioners must observe the Code of Conduct and afford our courts the respect they deserve. Conduct by a legal practitioner of the nature described in this judgement shows a complete lack of respect for the judiciary and it is completely unacceptable. I would like to assure the judiciary and members of the profession that the LPC will act decisively against any legal practitioners who contravene our Code of Conduct” said Kathleen Matolo -Dlepu, Chairperson of the LPC.

The LPC is disheartened by the number of recent reports of legal practitioners who deliberately undermine the court processes whilst knowing full well the steps that can be followed should they not be in agreement with court outcomes.

We quote only two paragraphs from the judgment of the Judge President:

“It has now of late become fashionable for legal practitioners to take off their velvet gloves and unashamedly attack judicial officers or the judiciary as a whole when they are not happy with the judgments or when they are called to order by the courts for their unprofessional conducts. This kind of behaviour is no longer a rare occurrence to this Division.”

“The judiciary is a noble profession steeped in history and tradition. Judicial officers are expected to uphold those customs as they traverse the profession. Recently, the slow erosion of the established etiquettes has been observed with great disenchantment… Maintaining decorum in and around a judicial environment is not merely a superficial means of protecting the image of lawyers and judges, but is absolutely essential to the administration of justice.”

Legal practitioners must always observe the highest level of ethical conduct in executing their duties, both before the courts and in their dealings with members of the pubic and the profession.

The LPC calls on all legal practitioners to uphold the highest professional standards at all times, and advises that it will carry out its mandate under the Legal Practice Act, which includes maintenance and enhancement of appropriate standards of professional practice and ethical conduct by al legal practitioners.

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