Two legal giants, the Johannesburg Society of Advocates (JSA) and The South African Legal Practice Council (LPC) was both knocked out in Court Yesterday.
The whole Court Judgement brings to mind the story of Icarus that become too ecstatic and self-centred with his power to fly with wings of feathers and wax, that he raised higher and higher until the sun melted the wax and he plunged to dead.
As per previous article it was an unprecedented fight of the master legal eagles with the cream of the legal profession pitched together against beleaguered Advocate Seth Nthai and a knock-out win against all that top legal minds place him and his legal team in a league of their own.
The JSA is disingenuous
Morally the fight was unfair and disingenuous from the start with heavyweights that packed together like a group of bullies against a single lightweight but in reality the legal battle was not about Advocate Nthai but about the power of the Advocate Societies' versus the Courts.
In short the JSA and LPC defied a Court order and logged two applications to appeal such Court order but after a series of hard blows in the Judgement that rejected such applications with cost, the final knock-out for the JSA was the words of the learned Judge that the JSA is in the Court's view disingenuous.
Admittedly the Judge referred to something specific yes but the whole fight against Advocate Nthai was dishonest and insincere from the JSA's part because they not only handled other advocate's cases differently, but also meddled with affairs of an opposing Advocate Society out of their own jurisdiction and on top of that did so without approval or mandate from their members.
Unclear role of the LPC
The role of the LPC and why they joined the fight against Advocate Nthai is unclear because the LPC was established recently and have nothing to do with cases that dated back way before then.
In the words of the learned Judge himself. "The LPC has not attempted to explain it's role in this application, why it defied a court order and why it chose to oppose the application that was launched on 18 October 2018 when it was not yet in existence."
It is anyway a bit concerning that legal eagles at this level argued that a specific set of laws and rules are applicable on Advocate Nthai based on dates but at the same time ignore their own argument and played both sides of the date fence.
In above article Martin van Staden wrote "When I read about the reinstatement of Seth Nthai on the advocates’ roll by the Limpopo High Court in late May, I hoped that the judge’s finding that the Johannesburg and Pretoria advocates’ societies had no legal standing in the matter was because of some irrelevant technicality." and continue that "It turned out that the existence of the LPC was the reason why the judge held that the advocates’ societies had no standing."
"In one superficial judgement, the Limpopo court essentially endorsed the nationalisation of the legal profession without any critical or constitutional engagement on whether this was legally proper."
I agree with Mr. Van Staden that "an important pillar of constitutionalism is a strong civil society that balances the power of the State" and it's indeed a reason for concern that "the Legal Practice Act apparently ousted the advocates societies’ ability to police their own members’ behaviour".
In this case things was however a bit different from what was argued above because specific the JSA regarded themselves as above the Courts and demanded exclusive power over the profession without any Court interference while the LPC too defied and ignored a Court order and choose to jump into a fight that was not even theirs to fight.
I have sympathy for the advocates societies' concern about their waning control and power over advocates under their jurisdiction but they picked the wrong fight and opponent that didn't deserved to be in the middle of all that, even more so that the JSA didn't even had any jurisdiction in the first place and the LPC was not even in existence when this case started.
The Limpopo Court essentially didn't "endorsed the nationalisation of the legal profession without any critical or constitutional engagement" as is claimed but in fact endorsed the very basic foundation that nobody and no society or organisation is above the law and jurisdiction of our Courts.
In plain English, it's like a school governing body in Johannesburg that engaged in a court case with a pupil from a school in Limpopo (whose school governing body by the way stand by him) in order to proof that their powers as school governing body super-cedes that of the High Courts without even taking into account that they themselves actually dismiss and undermine the powers of that other school governing body by meddling in their affairs.