LAW CLINIC RECEIVES PRESTIGIOUS AWARD!
The Stellenbosch University Law Clinic has been awarded the Corporate Counsel Association of South Africa (CCASA) Achievement Award at the 2018 African Legal Awards! The award recognises exceptional achievement within Africa’s legal community. The Law Clinic is the first recipient of the award.
Below is Dr Broodryk's acceptance speech:
I would firstly like to thank the organisers of the 2018 African Legal Awards which, as you know is being hosted by LegalWeek in association with the Corporate Counsel Association of South Africa, for making it possible to be involved in such a prestigious event and for providing a platform to give recognition to and engage with some of the most impressive African law firms and legal minds.
I would specifically like to thank the Corporate Counsel Association of South Africa for this award. I am humbled by your recognition of our firm’s achievements. Although we are not driven by desires of external recognition, it is indeed rewarding for one’s contribution to be publicly acknowledged, especially among one’s esteemed peers.
The Stellenbosch University Law Clinic is 30 years old this year. We employ 13 staff members, including 5 attorneys and 5 candidate attorneys. We provide legal assistance to the poor, marginalised and vulnerable. From mid-January until end of August 2018, approximately 1 400 individuals have accessed our firm for legal assistance in civil matters. We are often their last resort.
We also engage in impact matters, which we define as matters that have the potential to impact broadly to advance the interests of the poor and vulnerable. For example, in 2016 we were involved in the Constitutional Court litigation where the court ordered judicial oversight before issuing emolument attachment orders. We are also a party to recently initiated litigation in the Western Cape High Court for judicial intervention regarding certain debt collection processes. All the major role players in the credit industry are involved. The purpose of the litigation is to request a declaratory order that the statutory in duplum rule is applicable to all the interest, the costs, including the legal fees that are levied against a debtor - irrespective of whether a judgment has been granted. We also represent South African Paralympian, Hendri Herbst, in a matter where he was allegedly refused access to a restaurant because of the presence of his guide dog. We have also recently been central to the discussions surrounding tampon tax, following our submissions to the independent panel and to Treasury that sanitary pads should be included in the list of zero-rated VAT items.
As a firm, we continuously make a special effort to influence and make a difference to the lives of those individuals who have no other legal recourse, whether it entails that our attorneys visit Kayamandi informal settlement over weekends to educate the community on various legal issues, or through our financial literacy project where we provide financial literacy training to schools, farmworkers and other community members.
Educating law students also stands central to what we do. And we do it innovatively. We recently started collaborating with Coventry University in the UK where we use robot double technology to train law students.
Ultimately, our vision is a community that is legally empowered and that possesses a strengthened capacity to exercise their rights; law graduates who are professionally trained and are at the highest echelons insofar as their employability is concerned; and a broader South African community that is sensitised to their social justice responsibilities. The roots of our firm can be traced to 1975, when law students, under the supervision of practitioners in Stellenbosch, visited Cloetesville on a weekly basis to provide legal assistance to coloured and black community members. We are fortunate that we have come a long way since then in our attempts and ability to champion justice and to achieve systemic social change. Tonight’s recognition by the Corporate Counsel Association of South Africa of our achievements should serve to motivate those individuals and firms who share our objectives where we, as members of the African legal fraternity, appreciate and endorse the importance of the law being accessible to everyone. It also greatly assists us in our continuous quest to bring our vision into reality, and for this we are exceptionally grateful.