Case: Ex parte Gawula
In the case of Ex Parte Gawula, a 50-year-old male applied to the High Court of Gauteng, Pretoria to be admitted as Legal Practitioner (formally known as Attorney) in terms of Section 24 of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014. From the onset of his application it was evident that the applicant was not being honest with the Honourable Court, as neither his application nor his founding affidavit had any mentioned of his previous conviction nor his fraudulent past.
The Court therefor launched an inquest in regards to the applicant’s fitness to be admitted as Legal Practitioner, and therefor required the applicant to satisfy the Court that he was indeed a ‘fit and proper’ person to be placed on the roll of Legal Practitioners. The said application however lacked the necessary evidence for the applicant to proof his fitness, and more so the applicant “misled” the Court in terms of his submissions. The Court therefor required further evidence from the applicant to proof he has shown a manner of rehabilitation of his fraudulent past, and if it was not for counsel of the applicant had requested a postponement of the matter, the Court would have dismissed the application for admission.
In light of the above, it is apparent that a person whom had registered a contract of articles of clerkship in terms of the provisions of section 5(3) of the Attorneys Act 53 of 1979, would upon completion thereof, apply to the Honourable Court for admission as Legal Practitioner. Therefor in terms of such application, an applicant would not be prejudiced to be admitted as Legal Practitioner, based on his previous convictions and or disciplinary hearings. The applicant however has a duty, as a subject of the Constitution and an official of the Court, to lead the Court with complete honesty in his application. It would therefore be prudent for an applicant`s application, to submit to Court a true and proper reflection of his past, and should the applicant bring these facts to the Court`s attention, he would merely have to proof that he had rehabilitated from his previous fraudulent behaviour and would not be conducting acts of the same manner in the future.
An applicant`s past would therefor not prohibit him from a bright future in the legal profession, but it must be born in mind that he would have to satisfy the Court that he has adhered to all the requirements in terms of the Rules of the Legal Practice Council, and furthermore that he is indeed a ‘fit and proper person’, which is not an easy burden to proof if you do not act with the utmost integrity each and every day.
Compiled by: Ariko Stoltz (LL. B); source: https://www.lexisnexis.co.za/
Professions :: legal practice
Ex parte Gawula
|Case Number:||31371 / 2019|
|Judgment Date:||04 / 07 / 2019|
|Bench:||TAN Makhubele J; HF Jacobs AJ|
Legal Practice – Admission as attorney – Requirements
The applicant applied for his admission as a legal practitioner in terms of section 24 of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014, and for enrolment as an attorney.
Held that a prospective practitioner must satisfy the statutory body concerned (the Law Society before the advent of the Legal Practice Act and thereafter the Legal Practice Council) that, at the time of registration of his contract for articles of clerkship or contract for vocational training, he is a fit and proper person to practise. Similar proof must be furnished for admission as an attorney or legal practitioner. Rule 17 of the rules promulgated in terms of the Act lists the documents that must accompany an affidavit presented by an applicant in support of an application to court for admission as a legal practitioner.
The enquiry into whether an applicant is a fit and proper person is a factual one, and the court will not accept evidence in that regard at face value. The evidence relied on by the applicant included testimonials or statements by a clinical psychologist and a mentor. What concerned the court was a conviction and dismissal of the applicant. The opinions expressed in the testimonials and statements provided constituted secondary evidence and could only be considered in proper context of the primary facts relevant to the conduct of the applicant that led to his conviction and dismissal. Those primary facts were not set out by the applicant.
The application for admission was not to be enrolled before the applicant served on the Legal Practice Council and placed on the court file the documents set out in the order.