Attorney's Amendments Bill, Sheriff's Amendment Bill: discussion and voting; Maintenance Bill: discussion

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Justice and Correctional Services

21 September 1998
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Meeting report

JUSTICE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
22 September 1998
ATTORNEY'S AMENDMENTS BILL, SHERIFF'S AMENDMENT BILL: DISCUSSION AND VOTING; MAINTENANCE BILL: DISCUSSION

Discussion and voting on the Attorneys Amendment Bill, Sheriff's Amendment Bill (NCOP amendments) and discussion of clauses 46 and 47 of the Maintenance Bill.

Attorneys Amendment Bill
Mr Labuschagne (law advisor) started by briefing the committee on requests he has received to expedite the amendments to the rules of the High Court, which are currently not uniformly applicable to the ex TBVC areas. To this end he has removed the relevant clause from the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill and put it into the Attorneys Amendment Bill which is at a more advanced stage.

Some debate ensued as to whether the title should change to Attorneys and Rules of High Court Amendment Bill. Mr de Lange (law advisor) thought it unnecessary, while Mr Labuschagne (law advisor) pointed out that all the amendments relate to rules of court, while not all relate to attorneys; furthermore, this is a substantial clause which will remain in the act - this should be reflected in the title. Mr de Lange (Chairperson - ANC) agreed that it probably would be better to reflect the amendments in the title, especially in the age of computer research and suggested Attorneys and Matters relating to Rules of the High Court Amendment Bill. This was generally accepted.

Mr de Lange (Chairperson - ANC) reminded the committee that this is a s75 Bill and as such the committee may reject the NCOP amendments. He pointed out that these amendments had in fact come from the Rules Boards and not the NCOP committee as such. There was general agreement to the changes, however the committee was one member short of a quorum and voting was therefore delayed.

Sheriff's Amendment Bill
The committee went on in the meantime to discuss the Sheriff's Amendment Bill. The NCOP has suggested a change to clause 18 which will remove the option of a fine for persons impersonating a sheriff, as anyone found guilty of a crime without an option of fine cannot practice as a sheriff (even if the sentence is suspended).

Ms Camerer (NP) objected to this on the grounds that someone could be penalised in this way for a minor mistake. Mr Groenewald (NP) pointed out that this would not only relate to impersonating a sheriff, but also to the submission of false returns. Again, a small mistake could result in an existing sheriff losing her job and being sent to jail. Mr Mzizi (IFP) expressed concern that the court should have an option in respect of sentence, based on the differing merits of cases.
Mr de Lange (Chairperson - ANC) reminded the committee that the clause 18 refers to the submission of a false return. This means that the person is penalised for fraud not negligence, and that quite possibly it was preferable that such a person not practice as a sheriff any longer. The committee still did not have a quorum and so went on to discuss the Maintenance Bill.

Maintenance Bill
Only sections 46 and 47 dealing with transitional arrangements were outstanding from the previous day's discussions. Mr de Lange (Chairperson - ANC) raised the possibility of including a provision under which on the basis of s16(2) a person who had received a judgement under the old act could now apply for a garnishee order in terms of the new. Mr Oosthuizen (law advisor) remarked that this would require a tremendous amount of administration; to which Mr de Lange replied that this would be less than if everyone who had previously received judgement went back to court for a new order merely so that they could get a garnishee order. He stressed the importance of clearly spelling out how the new elements introduced into the Maintenance Bill, such as the garnishee order, default judgements and execution, relate to the old act. Mr de Lange (Chairperson - ANC) asked the law advisors to look into this and to finalise the draft bill with the hope of passing it in the week after the recess.

The committee having a quorum, voting took place on the amendments to Attorneys Amendment Bill, with everyone voting in favour. In respect of the Sheriff's Amendment Bill the committee accepted changes where typographical errors had occurred, but voted unanimously against the amendments to clause 18. They decided to pass a resolution saying that they had rejected these amendments because they did not in fact reflect the actual intention of the NCOP.

The meeting adjourned.

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