The South African Legal Practice Act: the requirement for University law clinics to have trust accounts: oversight or deliberate barrier?
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The Legal Practice Act (LPA) appears to have far-reaching implications for legal practitioners at university law clinics. This article will, however, focus only on the compulsory requirement that attorneys at university law clinics should have Fidelity Fund Certificates(FFCs) and therefore open (and presumably operate) separate trust accounts to permit them to practise. This requirement did not exist in terms of the Attorneys Act. This article therefore explores the viability of this new requirement and investigates whether it is essential and complies with the mandate of law clinics. The rationale for establishing university law clinics will be investigated and their activities scrutinised to ascertain whether the requirement is justified. The first part of the article contains the relevant provisions in the LPA and endeavour to explain why this requirement is placed on attorneys at law clinics. Thereafter an examination is conducted to explain why attorneys are required to have trust accounts and attorneys' roles at law clinics. The article then concludes by questioning whether it is reasonable to have a legislative requirement for attorneys employed at university law clinics to have FFCs.