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The Independence of the Legal Profession In Namibia

The Independence of the Legal Profession In Namibia

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Published by André Le Roux
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Published by: André Le Roux on Jun 16, 2009
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02/01/2013

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291
Theindepend
enceofthele
galprofessi
oninNamibia
CliveLKaven
djiiandNico
Horn
Introductio
n
Thelegalpro
fessionhasa
lwaysandwil
lpredictabl
ycontinueto
playinpivot
al
roleinNamib
ia\u2019ssociald
evelopment.
Indeed,theo
bservanceof
theruleofla
w
inademocrat
iccountryli
keNamibiawi
llbemererhe
toricifitsj
udgesand
legalpracti
tionersaren
otassuredof
independenc
eofmindanda
ction.The
independenc
eofthelegal
professioni
snotaccorde
dtolawyersf
ortheirown
bene\ufb01tortos
hieldthemfr
ombeingheld
accountable
intheperfor
manceof
theirduties
:thepurpose
ofindepende
nceistoprot
ectthepeopl
ebyaffordin
g
themaplatfo
rmfromwhich
topursue,ul
timatelyexe
rcise,andpr
otecttheir
constitutio
nalrights.
Theindepend
enceofthele
galfraterni
tymeansthat
theyareacco
rdedprotect
ion
similartoth
atofthejudi
ciary,inord
ertoenablet
hemtorender
theirservic
esto
clientswith
outfear,fav
our,orundue
interferenc
ebythestate
.Thispapers
ets
outtoexplor
ewhetherthe
legalfrater
nityinNamib
iaisindepen
dent.Becaus
e
theindepend
enceofthele
galprofessi
onisintertw
inedwiththe
conceptof
judicial
independenc
e,thepaperw
illalsoexam
inetheexten
ttowhichthe
legal
professionc
anenhanceth
isveryimpor
tantbrancho
fgovernment
.Thepaper
concludesby
lookingatth
echallenges
facingthele
galprofessi
on,andmakes
recommendat
ionstoaddre
ssthesechal
lenges.
Isthereabas
isfortheind
ependenceof
thelegalpro
fession?
Wewillrevie
wthecurrent
legislative
frameworkre
latingtothe
themeofthis
paper.
TheNamibian
Constitutio
n
Whilstthein
dependenceo
fthejudicia
ryinNamibia
isguarantee
dbythe
Constitutio
n,
1thepositio
nofthelegal
fraternityi
snotthatcle
ar.However,
it
issubmitted
that,implic
itintheprot
ectionofani
ndependentj
udiciary,is
also
theprotecti
onofanindep
endentlegal
profession.
Itisinconce
ivablethatt
he
1Article78(
2)oftheCons
titutionsta
testhat\u2013
[t]heCourts
shallbeinde
pendentands
ubjectonlyt
othisConsti
tutionandth
elaw.
Theindepend
enceofthele
galprofessi
oninNamibia
292
Constitutio
nwouldnotre
cogniseanin
dependentle
galprofessi
on,sinceiti
sa
sinequanonf
oranindepen
dentjudicia
ry.
Itisfurther
submittedth
attheprotec
tiongivento
courtsinter
msofArticle
78(3)
2
isbyimplica
tionalsoext
endedtothel
egalprofess
ion.Thisisb
asedonthefa
ct
that,inorde
rfortherule
oflawtohave
meaning,the
legalprofes
sionshould
enjoythesam
eprotection
accordedtot
hejudiciary
.
Legislation
TheLegalPra
ctitionersA
ct,1995(No.
15of1995)re
gulatesallm
attersrelat
ing
tothelegalp
rofessionan
dlegalpract
itionersinN
amibia.Inte
ralia,theAc
tdeals
with\u2013
\u2022admissiona
ndenrolment
\u2022privileges
,restrictio
nsandoffenc
esinconnect
ionwithprac
tice
\u2022discipline
andremovalf
rompractice
\u2022restoratio
ntotheroll,
andthelegal
practitione
r\u2019s\ufb01delityf
und.
TheActdoesn
otdealwitht
hedutiesofl
egalpractit
ionersorthe
extenttowhi
ch
theyareinde
pendentfrom
externalpre
ssuresinthe
executionof
theirmandat
e.
TheLegalPra
ctitionersA
ctandtherac
eissue
TheLegalPra
ctitionersA
cthas,howev
er,restrict
edtheindepe
ndenceofthe
legalprofes
sion.Before
independenc
e,theprofes
sionwasresp
onsiblefort
he
practicaltr
ainingofasp
irantlegalp
ractitioner
s.
Namibiahada
dividedprof
ession,comp
risingattor
neysandadvo
cates.Advoc
ates
wereseenass
pecialistsi
ntheirvario
us\ufb01elds.The
refore,thep
ubliccouldn
ot
godirectlyt
oadvocates,
buthadtober
eferredbyan
attorney.Ad
vocatescoul
d
appearinbot
htheLowerCo
urts(magist
rates\u2019court
s)andtheHig
hCourt,or
SupremeCour
tofSouthWes
tAfrica,asi
twasthenkno
wn.
Sincethepro
fessionwasd
ividedintoa
ttorneysand
advocates,t
herewereals
o
twodifferen
tmethodsofe
nteringthep
rofession.F
ortwoyears,
candidate
attorneyswi
ththerequir
eddegreeinl
awwereattac
hedasarticl
edclerkstoa
2SeeArticle
78(3):
Nomemberoft
heCabinetor
theLegislat
ureoranyoth
erpersonsha
llinterfere
withJudges
orjudicialo
f\ufb01cersinthe
exerciseoft
heirjudicia
lfunctions,
andallorgan
softheState
shall
accordsucha
ssistanceas
theCourtsma
yrequiretop
rotecttheir
independenc
e,dignityan
d
effectivene
ss,subjectt
othetermsof
thisConstit
utionoranyo
therlaw.
Theindepend
enceofthele
galprofessi
oninNamibia
293
principalwh
ohadtobeapr
actisingatt
orney.Atthe
successfulc
ompletionof
theirarticl
es,thecandi
datessatfor
anadmission
sexaminatio
n,setandmod
erated
bytheLawSoc
iety.Acandi
datecouldno
tapplyforad
mittancebyt
heSupreme
CourtofSout
hWestAfrica
withoutpass
ingthisexam
ination.Whi
leafour-yea
r
BProcdegree
foraSouthAf
ricanuniver
sitywasthea
cademicrequ
irementfor
anattorney,
anaspiranta
dvocateneed
eda\ufb01ve-year
LLBdegreefr
omaSouth
Africanuniv
ersity.
Duringtheco
lonialera,b
lacklawyers
(moreoften,
aspiringbla
cklawyers)
complainedt
hatthesyste
mworkedagai
nstthem.Aca
seinpointwa
sacomplaint
thatEphraim
KatatuKasut
usubmittedt
otheBlackLa
wyersAssoci
ation(BLA)
inSouthAfri
ca,statingt
hathehadrep
eatedlyfail
edtheBoarde
xamination
withoutduec
ause.TheBLA
tookthematt
erupwiththe
LawSociety,
andMr
Kasutuwasad
mitted.
3
Thefearofbl
acklawyersw
asnotwithou
tfoundation
.Theaparthe
idpolicies
oftheSouthA
fricangover
nment,the\ufb01n
ancialdisad
vantagesoft
heblack
communities
asaresultof
thosepolici
es,andtheto
talabsenceo
ftraining
facilitiesf
oraspiringb
lacklawyers
kepttheprof
essionalmos
texclusivel
ywhite.
ThecaseofMr
Kasutuisacl
earindicati
onthatthebl
ackcommunit
ywashighly
suspiciouso
fthelegalfr
aternityand
itsabilityt
olevelthepl
aying\ufb01eldsa
fter
independenc
e.
WhentheSWAP
OPartyofNam
ibiawonthee
lectionsand
becamethe\ufb01r
st
governmento
fanindepend
entNamibia,
itwascommit
tedtotransf
ormingthe
legalsystem
.SWAPOiniti
allywantedt
oreplacethe
Roman-Dutch
common
law,inherit
edfromtheSo
uthAfricanc
olonialrule
,withanindi
genouslegal
system.Howe
ver,whenthe
realitiesof
sucharadica
lchangebeca
meclear,the
Constituent
Assemblyopt
edtomaintai
ntheRoman-D
utchcommonl
awand
thestatutor
ylawsenacte
dduringthec
olonialperi
od.Thewhole
legalsystem
validonthed
aybeforeind
ependencebe
camethelega
lsystemofan
independent
Namibia.
4
Thegovernme
ntwerefaced
withanother
dilemmaaswe
ll.Thelawgr
aduates
whohadrecei
vedtheirleg
aleducation
inforeignju
risdictions
inexiledidn
ot
qualifytoen
terthelegal
professioni
nNamibia\u2013wh
etheraslawy
ersorattorn
eys.
Tenyearslat
er,anonline
governmentp
ublicationr
ememberedth
e\ufb01rstclash
betweengove
rnmentandth
elegalprofe
ssion:
5
3BLA/BlackL
awyersAssoc
iation.2008
.Thehistory
ofBLA,http:
//www.bla.o
rg.za/asp/
content_sub
.asp?id=4&s
id=3;lastac
cessed2Octo
ber2008.
4Article140
,NamibianCo
nstitution.
5GRN/Govern
mentoftheRe
publicofNam
ibia.2000.A
decadeofpea
ce.Windhoek
:
MinistryofJ
ustice&Of\ufb01c
eoftheAttor
ney-General
.Availablea
thttp://www
.op.gov.na/
Theindepend
enceofthele
galprofessi
oninNamibia
294
Sincetheret
urnofNamibi
ancitizensi
n1990whohad
leftNamibia
duringtheco
lonial
period,them
inistryandt
helegalprof
essionhadbe
eninundated
withinquiri
esabout
thepossible
recognition
oftheforeig
nlegalquali
\ufb01cationsofr
eturnees.In
orderto
addressthis
issue,itwas
decidedthat
theadmissio
noflegalpra
ctitionerst
othebarand
theattorney
professions
houldbedeal
twithatthes
ametime.The
seeffortscu
lminated
inthepassin
gbythe[sic]
parliamento
f[the]Attor
neysAmendme
ntAct,1991(
Act
17of1991)an
dtheAdmissi
onofAdvocat
esAmendment
Act,1991(Ac
t19of1991).
Theseamendm
entswerecar
riedoutamid
\ufb01erceresist
ancefromcer
taincircles
ofthe
oldestablis
hmentthatvi
ewedtheinte
grationofNa
mibianswhoh
adobtainedt
heir
legalquali\ufb01
cationsinco
untriesothe
rthanSouthA
fricaasa\u201cth
reattotheru
leof
law[\u201d.]Give
nthisresist
ancefromthe
privatesect
or,thosewho
wereintegra
tedintothe
professione
xperiencedc
onsiderable
discriminat
ionintheini
tialperiod.
Theamendmen
tswerenotto
odrastic.Th
eprofession
wasopenfora
spiring
lawstudents
whohadcompl
etedaLLBdeg
reeinaCommo
nwealthorot
her
commonlawju
risdiction,
butnotforgr
aduatesfrom
civillawjur
isdictions.
6
Consequentl
y,\u201cthethrea
ttotheruleo
flaw\u201dwassoo
nforgotten.
Therealchan
gestothepro
fessioncame
withtheLega
lPractition
ersAct.TheA
ct
mergedthetw
oprofession
sandtookawa
ytheLawSoci
ety\u2019scontro
loverthe
practicaltr
ainingoflaw
yersandover
Boardexamin
ations.Thes
echangestoo
k
awaysomeacc
eptedpowers
andfunction
softheprofe
ssion.Botha
dvocatesand
lawyerstook
exceptionan
d\ufb01ercelyres
istedthenew
Act.Petitio
nswereeven
senttotheHu
manRightsCo
mmissioninG
eneva,aswel
lastotheInt
ernational
BarAssociat
ioninLondon
.
7
TheLawSocie
tyofNamibia
andtheSocie
tyofAdvocat
esissuedajo
int
responsetog
overnment.T
hedocumentw
asharshandi
nsensitive.
Itaccused
thegovernme
ntofbeingas
negativetow
ardsanindep
endentprofe
ssionasthe
previousgov
ernmenthadb
een.
8Theyalsowa
rnedthatthe
ruleoflawwa
sbeing
underminedi
nlimitingth
eindependen
ceoftheprof
ession,\u2013
9
Decade_peac
e/moj.htm;l
astaccessed
2October200
8.
6Itisironic
thatthegove
rnmentopted
toemphasise
thenameorti
tleofthedeg
reerather
thantheactu
allevelofde
gree.TheUni
tedKingdom\u2019
sLLBisacase
inpoint.Whi
leitis
onlyathree-
yeardegree,
itreceivedt
hesamerecog
nitionasthe
then\ufb01ve-yea
rLLBdegree
fromaSouthA
fricanunive
rsity,altho
ughtheLLBwa
salreadyase
conddegree.
South
Africanstud
entscouldev
enskiptheLL
ManddoaLLDo
rPhDimmedia
telyafteran
LLB.
Yet,thethre
e-yearlawde
greefromSou
thAfrica,th
eBIuriswasn
otseenasana
dequate
quali\ufb01catio
ntoenterthe
profession.
Theinconsis
tencyisstil
linplace.
7GRN(2000).
8\u201cJointresp
onsebytheLa
wSocietyand
theSocietyo
fAdvocatest
ogovernment
\u201d(Maritz&
Theunissen1
995;citedby
Shikongo,E.
2003.\u201cAnnua
lReportofth
ePresidento
ftheLaw
SocietyofNa
mibia\u201d.Wind
hoek:LawSoc
ietyofNamib
ia.Reprinte
dinSteinman
n,R&
Cohrssen,C(
eds).2006.T
heLawSociet
yofNamibia:
85thAnniver
saryCommemo
rative
Book.Windho
ek.LawSocie
tyofNamibia
,p160ff.
9(ibid.:161
).
Theindepend
enceofthele
galprofessi
oninNamibia
295
\u2026whichintur
ncouldresul
tinconstitu
tionalrefor
msandtheeve
ntualinstal
mentofa
benigndicta
tor.
Thejointsta
tementexpla
inedthetens
ionbetweeng
overnmentan
dtheprofess
ion
bystatingth
at,\u2013
10
...asisthec
aseinanythi
rdworldcoun
tries[sic],
thelegalpro
fessionisvi
ewedas
partisanand
anti-govern
mentanditso
pinionuntru
stworthy.
Forgovernme
nt,thefusio
noftheprofe
ssionwasthe
onlywaytogu
aranteeblac
k
legalpracti
tionersequa
lopportunit
ies.TheSoci
etyofAdvoca
teswaswhite
and
elitist.Byt
hemergingof
theprofessi
on,newblack
practitione
rsnolongerh
ad
towaitforbr
iefsfromwhi
telaw\ufb01rms.A
nadmittedle
galpractiti
onercannow
appearinbot
htheLowerCo
urtsandtheH
ighCourt.
TheAttorney
-General,th
eusuallymod
erateAdv.Ve
kuuiRukoro,
reactedin
Parliamentw
ithanequall
yhardrespon
se:
11
Coming,asit
does[,]from
agroupofpeo
plewhokeptm
utedsilence
throughoutt
he
occupationo
fourcountry
bytheformer
colonialreg
ime,particu
larlyasrega
rdsthe
atrocitiesc
ommittedbyt
hatgovernme
ntonourpeop
le,thestate
mentsaretoo
laughable
forwords.Iw
illnotbothe
rtosayanyth
ingmoreabou
tthem.
Thecommento
ftheAttorne
y-Generalis
clear:howca
nonetakethi
sharsh
responseofa
norganisati
onthatisalm
ostexclusiv
elywhiteser
iouslyinthe
light
oftheirsupp
ortofthepre
viouscoloni
alregime?
12Toaddinsu
lttoinjury,
the
Attorney-Ge
neralthanke
dtheNamibia
nLawAssocia
tion(NLA),a
nassociatio
n
representin
gtheinteres
tofblacksin
theprofessi
on,fortheir
contributio
nand
positiveatt
itude.
13
Thereismeri
tintheAttor
ney-General
\u2019sreplytoth
ejointrespo
nse,especia
llyif
onetakesnot
eofitsinsen
sitivewordi
ng.Eventhep
hrase\u201cthird
worldcountr
ies\u201d
10(ibid.).
11\u201cAddresst
otheNationa
lAssembly\u201d(
Rukoro1995;
citedinibid
.:161).
12Steinmann
andCohrssen
(2006:13f)s
tatethatthe
SocietyofAd
vocatestook
astrongposi
tion
againstinju
sticescommi
ttedunderso
-calledanti
-terrorisml
egislationd
uringthelib
eration
struggle.Ho
wever,thead
vocateswhoa
ctivelysupp
ortedthestr
uggleforind
ependence
wereseenasm
avericksand
wereisolate
dinthewhite
community.S
eealsoDurba
ch,A.
1999.Upingt
on.CapeTown
:DavidPhili
pPublishers
,19ff;DuPre
ez,M.2003.P
alenative.
Memoriesofa
renegaderep
orter.CapeT
own:ZebraPr
ess,p121ff.
13Rukoro(19
95;citedinS
teinmann&Co
hrssen2006:
161).
Theindepend
enceofthele
galprofessi
oninNamibia
296
wasregarded
asderogator
yinthedevel
opingword.
14Buttoblam
ethetension
betweengove
rnmentandth
eprofession
onathird-wo
rldmentalit
yisnotonly
insensitive
:italsosoun
dslikethety
picalracist
oppositiont
omajorityru
lein
southernAfr
ica.Thisisn
ottosaythat
thesocietie
swereracist
,butitdoesr
e\ufb02ect
theirignora
nceofthesen
sitivitieso
ftheblackco
mmunity.
However,iti
sunfortunat
ethattherac
ialdivision
softhepastm
adeafruitfu
l
discussiono
ntheindepen
denceofthel
egalprofess
ionimpossib
le.Instead
ofdiscussin
gmeaningful
waystoaddre
sstheinequa
litiesofthe
pastwithout
limitingthe
independenc
eoftheprofe
ssion,thedi
fferentrole
softheparti
es
duringtheli
berationstr
ugglebecame
theinvisibl
epretextoft
hedebate.
TheSocietyo
fAdvocatesr
esistedthef
uneralofthe
irorganisat
ion.Whileit
no
longerhadgo
vernmentapp
rovaloraleg
alfoundatio
n,itremaine
dactiveasa
voluntaryor
ganisation.
Atransition
alclauseint
heLegalPrac
titionersAc
tallows
practitione
rstopractic
ewithoutaFi
delityFundc
erti\ufb01cate.C
onsequently
,legal
practitione
rscanstillp
racticedefa
ctoasadvoca
tes,andrely
onattorneys
to
referclient
stothemwhen
evertheirex
pertknowled
geisneeded.
15
TheSocietyo
fAdvocatesa
lsokeptthei
rpupilagepr
ogrammeanda
nadmittance
examination
inplace.Itr
emainsaques
tionifthepr
ovisionsofs
ection67(2\u2013
4)
oftheLegalP
ractitioner
sActallowso
nlymemberso
ftheSociety
ofAdvocates
topracticew
itho