The long walk to admittance – getting your application in order

Wednesday, November 10, 2021, 11:01
Author name
Johan van Stade
Johan van Stade being admitted as an attorney.

So, you have a degree in law, worked as a candidate attorney, and passed all four papers of your competency-based examinations.  The final step is to become an admitted attorney.


You become an admitted attorney by submitting your attorneys’ admission application.  This is done by handing it in at Court with all the requisite pleadings and affidavits.


Your application will consist of four parts– 

  • Part 1: Notice of motion which is your application document.
  • Part 2: Founding affidavit in which you state all the facts of your application.
  • Part 3: Supporting affidavit in which your principal confirms all the facts in the founding affidavit.
  • Part 4: Annexures

You can click here to download a template of each of these documents.  Read on to see what these documents entail.


Revised terminology


Before we continue, it might be helpful to take note of some terminology that has recently changed: 

  • Candidate legal practitioner (previously known as candidate attorney)
  • Practical vocational training contract (previously known as articles of clerkship) 
  • Competency-based examination (previously known as board exams or practical examination) 
  • Programme of structured course work of 400 notional hours (previously known as the six months practical legal training course or the LSSA UNISA long-distance course)
  • Programme of structured course work of 150 notional hours (previously known as part-time 23 days practical legal training course)

 
The process explained


Part 1: The notice of motion


A notice of motion is a written application to the Court.  It is the document that outlines the details of your legal proceedings.  This document requests the Court to issue a ruling or order on a legal matter – in this case, your application to be admitted as a legal practitioner.  Your notice of motion will be an ex parte application, meaning that you are the only party in the court.


A notice of motion for an order must:

 

  • Identify the person who is seeking the order;
  • Identify the date of the application;
  • Concisely identify the purpose of the order; and
  • Identify the affidavit(s) which will accompany the application.

 

Part 2: The founding affidavit


The notice of motion must be accompanied by two affidavits – a founding affidavit and a supporting (or confirmatory) affidavit. These documents outline the facts the applicant wishes to rely on and identify any relevant documents regarding the order.  Affidavits are written in the first person.  The applicant is obliged to observe the utmost good faith in placing all material facts before the court.


The founding affidavit should contain confirmation of the following:

 

  • Confirmation of the jurisdiction of the Court, Rule 17.2.1 of the LPA.
  • The applicant’s full names, date of birth, identity number and residential address, Rule 17.2.2 of the LPA. 
  • Confirmation that the applicant has South African citizenship or is a permanent resident of the Republic, Rule 17.2.3 read with Section 24(2)(b)(i) of the LPA.
  • Confirmation that the applicant has satisfied all the requirements for a degree referred to in section 26(1) of the LPA after pursuing for that degree a course of study not less than four years, Rule 17.2.4 read with Section 26(1)(a) of the LPA.
  • If the LLB degree was preceded by a primary degree i.e. BA, Social Science, etc. then the applicant must confirm having completed a course of study not less than five years in terms of Section 26(1)(a)(ii) of the LPA. 
  • A statement whether the applicant intends to be enrolled as an attorney, Rule 17.2.5 of LPA.
  • Confirmation of the physical address and contact numbers where the attorney will be employed, Rule 17.2.6 of LPA.
  • Confirmation that the applicant served under a PVT contract stating dates of filing and registration and the period served, Rule 17.3.1 of LPA. 
  • Confirmation of the principal’s entitlement to enter into a contract with the applicant (Regulation 6(5) of the LPA), whether he/she had practiced for their account (Regulation 6(5)(a)), practicing as a director (Regulation 6(5)(c)), or practicing as a partner (Regulation 6(5)(b)) for a period of three years prior to engaging the applicant as a candidate legal practitioner.  Alternatively, the principal must have practiced as an attorney for a period of five years within the preceding six years (Regulation 6(5)(e)).  Note: The principal’s physical address must be included, Rule 17.3.2 of LPA.
  • Confirmation that the principal did not have more than three candidate legal practitioners contracted simultaneously under a practical vocational training contract.  Candidate legal practitioners who served under a law clinic (viz Legal Aid, Office of the State Attorney, Lawyers For Human Rights or any certified law clinic) must confirm that the principal did not have more than six candidate legal practitioners contracted simultaneously under a practical vocational training contract.  If the contract was registered in terms of the Attorneys Act, then confirmation that the principal did not have more than ten candidate legal practitioners. 
  • The applicant must confirm having served under the direct supervision of the principal or a partner of the principal or another admitted attorney in the office of the principal, Rule 17.3.3.
  • Confirmation that the applicant was not absent for 30 days in any one year of the contract, Rule 17.3.4. 
  • Confirmation of the exact dates served under the practical vocational training contract, Rule 17.3.5.
  • A statement as to the type of legal experience gained by the applicant whilst serving under the contract of practical vocational training, Rule 17.3.6.
  • Confirmation that the applicant had no pecuniary interest in the practice of an attorney and that he or she held no other position other than that of a candidate legal practitioner, Rule 17.2.9.
  • Confirmation that the applicant has undergone all the prescribed practical vocational training contract requirements as a candidate legal practitioner referred to in Section 26(1)(c) of the Act, Rule 17.2.10.
  • Confirmation that the applicant has passed a competency-based examination (previously known as board exams) for candidate legal practitioners, referred to in Section 26(1)(d) of the Act, Rule 17.2.11.
  • Note: The requirement for community service in terms of Rule 17.2.12 has not yet been determined by the Minister and is currently not applicable. 
  • If the applicant failed to lodge their application within a period of one year from the date of completion of their PVT contract, they are required to give a statement regarding his or her activities from the date of completion of the PVT contract to the date of the application, Rule 17.2.13. 
  • Confirmation that the applicant has completed a program of structured course work of at least 400 notional hours over a period of not more than six months (previously known as 6 months full-time PLT course). If the course work was completed prior to registration, then the same complies with Regulation 6(1)(b) of the LPA (one year PVT contract). 
  • If a candidate legal practitioner entered into a two year-contract but completed the course work (6 months PLT course or LSSA UNISA long-distance course) during the first year of the two-year term, then the same complies with Regulation 6(2) of the LPA.  If the Night School was attended on a full-time basis, it should be confirmed that the school was attended after-hours and that it did not interfere with the daily duties of the applicant as a candidate legal practitioner.
  • Note: The Act does not provide for the 400 notional hour course work (6 months PLT course) to be completed after a one-year period of service. 
  • Alternatively, confirmation that the applicant has completed a program of structured course work of at least 150 notional hours (previously known as the part time 23-day PLT course).
  • Note: If 150 notional hour course work was completed during the PVT contract then the same complies with Regulation 6(1)(a) of LPA.  However, if course work was completed within 12 months after completion of PVT contract, then the same complies with Regulation 6(1)(b) of LPA.
  • Note: A person who initially entered a two-year practical vocational training contract (articles of clerkship),but has completed a program of structured course work of 400 notional hours (6 months PLT course or LSSA UNISA long-distance course) is not required to apply for condonation in their application papers.  Instead, such a person must in their founding affidavit affirm their entitlement to being admitted as a legal practitioner by virtue of the provisions of Regulation 6(2) of the Legal Practice Act which states that:

"A person referred to in sub-regulation (1)(a) who has entered into a practical vocational training contract for a period of 24 months may, after having served a period of 12 months under that contract, apply for admission and enrolment as an attorney if he or she has, during the course of that period of 12 months but outside of his or her normal working hours in terms of that contract, completed a programme of structured course work, of not less than 400 notional hours duration in the aggregate."


Declarations about fitness and properness

 

  • As part of your founding affidavit, you must declare that you are a fit and proper person for admission as an attorney or legal practitioner.  This declaration includes:
  • Confirmation that the applicant has not previously been admitted as an advocate or attorney of any Court and have not made an application for such admission.
  • Confirmation of no previous criminal convictions and no criminal investigations pending.
  • Confirmation of no previous civil judgments and no civil proceedings pending.
  • Confirmation of no previous disciplinary actions by the law society, University or previous employer (if applicable) and no disciplinary actions pending.
  • The facts should be fully disclosed to the Court if there are any of the above allegations against the applicant (previously or pending).
  • Confirmation that the applicant’s estate has not been sequestrated and that there is no application for sequestration pending.
  • Confirmation that the prescribed notice (one month) in terms of Rule 17.7 was given to the Legal Practice Council and that the prescribed fee in terms of Rule 17.9 has been paid.

 

Part 3 The supporting affidavit


The supporting or confirmatory affidavit is the document in which your principal declares that all the facts stated in your founding affidavit are indeed the truth.  Your principal confirms that he/she guided you during your candidateship and that you are a fit and proper person to be admitted.
The principal’s supporting affidavit should contain the following:

  • Confirmation of the exact period the applicant served with him/her.
  • Confirmation that he/she had been serving as an attorney for his or her own account or as a partner or a director for a period of three years in the aggregate during the preceding four years, Rule 17.4.2.1.1. 
  • Alternatively, confirmation that the principal practiced as a professional assistant in a firm for a period of five years, Rule 17.4.2.1.2.
  • Attorneys employed by Legal Aid must have practiced for three years, Rule 17.4.2.2.
  • Attorneys employed by the office of the State Attorney must have practiced for four years, Rule 17.4.2.3.
  • Confirmation that the principal continued to practice as aforesaid during the period of the PVT contract, Rule 17.4.3.
  • Confirmation that the principal did not have more than three candidate legal practitioners simultaneously under the PVT contract, Rule 17.4.4. 
  • Attorneys employed by Legal Aid or State Attorney must confirm not having contracted more than 6 candidate legal practitioners under the PVT contract. 
  • Confirmation by the principal that he/she is of the view that the applicant is a fit and proper person to be admitted and enrolled as an attorney, Rule 17.4.5.

 

Part 4: Annexures


Certified copies of the following should be attached as annexures to the application:

  • ID document;
  • Permanent residence permit (where applicable);
  • Marriage certificate (where applicable);
  • Copy(ies) of the applicant’s degree certificate(s);
  • Some courts (such as the PMB High Court) might require the inclusion of academic record;
  • Copy of PVT contract (articles of clerkship agreement);
  • Letter confirming registration of the PVT contract (contract of articles of clerkship);
  • Copy of cession (where applicable);
  • Letter confirming registration of cession by LPC (where applicable); 
  • Copy(ies) of the Proficiency Certificate confirming completion of the competency-based examination (board exams consisting of four papers);
  • Attendance Certificate issued by LEAD confirming completion of either 400 notional hour course work (6 months PLT course) or 150 notional hour course work (part-time 23-day PLT course);
  • Principal’s supporting affidavit (Note: In respect of cession an affidavit by each principal must be submitted); and
  • Two certificates of good character from legal practitioners who have been acquainted with the applicant for not less than two years.
  • Conclusion
  • With the above guidelines and these templates, you will be able to compile your application in no time. 
  • When your application has been accepted, you can finally call yourself an admitted attorney.  This might be a lengthy process, but after all the studying and hard work as a candidate attorney, you owe it to yourself to see it through to the end.  If you have not yet written the Attorneys’ admission exams, you can follow this link for information on our course to help you pass all four exams with ease.

Please note: This blog outlines the basic application process to become an admitted attorney.  It is not applicable to session and non-practising attorneys.

Last updated 20 March 2023.

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Admission Application Template Pack

Fill out this form to download your FREE copy of our template pack for the application to be admitted as legal practitioner.

The template pack includes:

  • A checklist for the application for admission in terms of the Legal Practice Act
  • A list of requisite annexures
  • A template for the notice of motion
  • A template for the founding affidavit
  • A template for the supporting affidavit