Contingency Fees Bill, Divorce Courts Amendment Bill & State of Emergency Bill: deliberations, briefing & vote

NCOP Security and Justice

22 October 1997
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Meeting report


22 OCTOBER 1997

As there were three bills to be discussed and voted for, the meeting was divided into three sections. Jane Lebeko, briefed the members of the committee on the amendments to the Contingency Fees Bill.
The chairperson wondered whether the wording "upon request" in clause 1 (1) was necessary as he felt that the word "may" on page 2, line 10 could be interpreted as referring to a request. Lebeko did not have a problem omitting "upon request" as long as the meaning of the amendment was not changed by this omission. Mr Radue (NP) needed clarification as to who assesses the fees. The chairperson, Mr Moosa, responded that it was the law society. After these alterations, members were happy with clause 1. No changes were made to clause 2. The chairperson felt that the word "relating" was too broad in the last clause and "arising out of" sounded more concise. Lebeko pointed out that in option 1 (2) "proof of actual delivery" had been included as proposed by Mr Surty (ANC). Ms Tyobeka supported this inclusion in terms of people living in the rural areas as to ensure that they receive service, as this was not always the case. Mr Radue stated that although he agreed with clause 5, he was not entirely happy with the way it sounded, i.e. that a legal practitioner had to belong to a professional controlling body. He was thinking of practitioners who lived in the rural areas and were often hundreds of kilometres away from such bodies as they are usually in the bigger cities. Members decided to vote on the Bill which was subsequently passed.

Mr de Lange briefed the committee on the Divorce Courts Amendment Bill. De Lange explained that the new division of court would consist of one or more presiding officers of which one will be the president of the division. All supported the amendments. Members voted on the Bill and it was passed.

Mr Nel briefed the committee on the State of Emergency Bill. The members and the chairperson did not have a problem with the Bill as it stood but the chairperson would prefer a larger role given to the NCOP. Both Mr Radue and Nel stated that historically only the National Assembly had been significantly involved in a State of Emergency. They mentioned that in the previous constitution, there was reference to the National Assembly only. The chairperson suggested that a simple amendment be made available and allow some involvement of the NCOP once a State of Emergency has been proclaimed by the President. De Ville (Freedom Front) felt that only the National Assembly should be involved as it was directly elected by voters. He also thought that the committee should not be spending too much time debating this issue for the sake of time. He stated that the NP had no objection to the Bill as it is. The chairperson said that he had raised the matter, that is, the need for some consultative involvement or discussion with the NCOP, with Advocate de Lange, the chairperson of the Justice Portfolio Committee, who did not object to the involvement of the NCOP. The chairperson wanted to know how provinces felt about their involvement. Both de Ville and Radue had found that provinces did not mind playing a minimal role and that the National Assembly should be the major player. The chairperson said that he did not have a problem with passing the Bill as it is, but felt that in a State of Emergency one could not act as if there was only one House. He was of the opinion that consensus needed to be broadened when a State of Emergency was proclaimed. Tyobeka's reply was that it would mean an amendment in the Constitution. The chairperson stated that in section 37 of the Constitution, the National Assembly was not specifically mentioned. He asked the committee whether there would be any impact if "National Assembly" was changed to "Parliament" in 3 (1). Nel replied that it was an interpretation act and would not be a problem. The only impact would basically be that the NCOP would get a notice. Tyobeka wanted to know whether a deadlock could occur between the President and the National Assembly. The chairperson responded that it could not really happen as the President declares it, it was not an issue of debate. He asked whether everyone was happy with the suggested amendment for 3(1) and everybody consented. He also asked whether the National Assembly made any amendments. Mr Nel's response was that they were purely technical, they were all in order to bring the Bill in line with the Constitution. Members voted on the Bill and it was passed.


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