Late last week, acting judge Carol Sibiya has ruled in favour of the Independent Institution of Education’s (IIE) LLB degree students, that they are qualified to enter the legal profession after graduation as much as their counterparts who are studying at public universities.
According to The Citizen, the ruling was made at the Pietermaritzburg High Court, were the Acting Judge gave the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Michael Masutha, one year to change the Legal Practice Act.
“I could find no rational basis for differentiating between person with a LLB degree, particularly given that the Council for Higher Education (CHE), the highest educational authority in the land confirmed that there was no difference in the quality and outcomes of the IIE’s four year LLB and that of the Public Universities,” said Sibiya.
In passing judgement, Sibiya, declared that the Legal Practice Act (LPA) 28 section 26 (1) (a) (PDF) is constitutionally invalid insofar as it only allows LLB graduates from public universities to enter the profession and precludes students from private institutions from doing so.
The issue was raised by a parent of a student at Varsity College in 2018 and brought to the KZN Law Society.
“The issue has its roots in the old Attorney’s Act of 1979, when the new LPA was promulgated the offending clauses were merely carried through. When the word “University” ought to have been updated to read “Higher Education Institution,” added director of the IIE, Dr Felicity Coughlan.
The IIE’s LLB degree was accredited by the CHE in 2017 and was offered for the first time last year, with more than 400 students registered for the course.
“Our graduating students will be able to apply with confidence to any law society, to be admitted as candidate attorney anywhere in South Africa,” concluded Varsity College managing director, Louise Wiseman.
[Source – The Citizen][Image – CC 0 Pixabay]