Judicial Matters Amendment Bill: voting

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Justice and Correctional Services

12 April 2005
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Meeting report

JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 April 2005
JUDICIAL MATTERS AMENDMENT BILL: VOTING

Chairperson Ms Chohan-Khota (ANC)

Documents handed out
Memorandum on the Objects of the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill
Judicial Matters Amendment Bill [B2-2005]
Judicial Matters Amendment Bill working draft
Portfolio Committee Amendments to the Judicial Matters Bill
Committee Report on the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill

SUMMARY
The Committee heard briefings on the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill. Mr Basset went through the technical changes and the amendments were unanimously adopted without abstentions.

MINUTES
Mr L Basset (Departmental Legal Drafter) took the Committee through the final proposed amendments:

Long title
Amendment of the Magistrates’ Courts Act, 1944

The word "finalisation" was replaced by "disposal". The words "permanently appointed" were also inserted.

Amendment of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000
The words "within the definition of sex" were added. This was in line with a suggestion that was made in a previous meeting.

Amendment of section 9 of Act 32 of 1944
The words "in the opinion of the Minister" and "after consultation with the Chief Justice" were added to the proposed section 7(e) and 7(e)(ii) respectively. This would mean that a magistrate who was unfit to hold office or was incapacitated could be exempted from the provisions of the proposed section 7 if the Minister, after consultation with the Chief Justice, was of the opinion that the magistrate should be exempted.

Draft Resolution for the Consideration of the Committee
Mr Basset said that the Committee had given indications of what it would like to see in the Resolution.

Amendment of section 299A of Act 51 of 1977, as inserted by section 6 of Act 55 of 2003
Mr Basset referred to the clause as originally introduced in Parliament. Section 299A of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) required the presiding officer, when sentencing an accused person to prison, to inform the complainant or relatives of the complainant who were in court at the time of sentencing of the right to make representations to the Parole Board.

Mr Basset said that a question was raised on the viability of issuing directives to provide for prescripts referred to in clause 5(ii). The Committee was concerned that clause 5(ii) might work in practice and it was therefore not wise to have a dead letter on the statute book.

The following questions were raised:
- Whether the issue of confidentiality could not be addressed in section 299A itself and not through directives.
- Whether the Department of Correctional Services was the appropriate institution to inform the complainant or relatives of the right.
- Whether the courts were not the appropriate institutions to deal with this issue by possibly ordering the prosecutor in the case or the investigating officer to inform the complainant or relatives.

He said that the Committee asked for the further investigation of these issues and revert to it with appropriate amendments. The amendments could possibly be made through another Judicial Matters Amendment Bill towards the end of the year.

The Chairperson said that the clause should deal with complainants or relatives who were not present at the time of sentencing. Mr Basset agreed.

Clause 9: Amendment of section 1 of Act 114 of 1998
Mr Basset referred to the clause as originally introduced in Parliament. The clause amended the definition of ‘debt collector’. The broad aim was to protect the public from irregular practices in the debt collecting industry. All persons who carried on the business of debt collecting were required to register as such, with the exclusion of attorney and employees of attorneys who did debt collecting and were regulated by the Attorneys Act. He referred to the current definition of a debt collect and said that the Department had suggested that it should be quoted. He also referred to section 8(1) of the Debt Collectors Act.

Clause 9 of the Bill intended to amend paragraph (c) of the definition in order to close the gap that had come to the fore in practice wherein agents of attorneys carried on debt collecting work but did not register as required by the Act. Some of the agents did not stay within the prescripts of the Act and subjected members of the public to abusive practices which the Act was intended to prevent. While the Committee agreed with the proposed amendment, it wondered if the time had not arrived for all debt collectors to be regulated by a single statute and not by two statutes as was the case in the present. The Committee had asked the Department to investigate this issue by considering the viability of all debt collectors, attorneys included, falling under the ambit of a single statute. The Department was asked to consult all the stakeholders concerned. The Department did what was requested.

Memorandum on the objects of the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill, 2005
Mr Basset said that the Department had tried to bring the memorandum in line the amendments that had taken place at the Committee’s request.

Voting on the Bill
All members present voted in favour of the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill with amendments.

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