Dr Stephan van der Merwe
Stephan van der Merwe joined the Law Clinic, University of Stellenbosch as practising attorney in 2001, after serving his articles of clerkship in private practice. Earlier he graduated from the University of Stellenbosch with a B Comm LLB and during 2002 he obtained an Advanced Certificate in Children’s Rights. In 2005 he obtained an LLM (cum laude) and during 2007 he qualified as notary public and attorney with right of appearance in the High Court. In 2017 he obtained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Higher Education Teaching and Learning (cum laude). In 2022 Stephan obtained his doctorate in law (LLD). The title of his dissertation is “Developing a Procedural Framework for Advanced Debtor Protection: The Case of Emolument Attachment Orders”, in which he makes motivated recommendations aimed at advancing debtor protection.
Stephan is deeply involved with community service in his capacity as the senior supervising attorney at the Law Clinic. During the early 2000’s his work was instrumental in exposing the interest fraud which eventually led to the demise of Saambou Bank. He also has extensive experience representing debtors in rescission of judgment and emoluments attachment order cases and his practice and research in this regard proved valuable in framing the applicant’s case in the Constitutional Court matter of University of Stellenbosch Legal Aid Clinic & others v Minister of Justice and Correctional Services & Others  ZACC 32. Stephan has been the Clinic’s principal attorney on various other impact litigation matters related to his field of practice, including the 2019 in duplum case (University of Stellenbosch Law Clinic & 11 Others v The National Credit Regulator & 48 Others) and the University of Stellenbosch Law Clinic & 8 Others v Lifestyle Direct Group International (Pty) Ltd & 18 Others class action filed during 2019. He also advises and presents training on debt related matters, and specifically emoluments attachment orders, to human resource industries on a national level.
Stephan is a former secretary and treasurer of the South African University Law Clinic Association (SAULCA) and is currently a member of the International Association of Legal Ethics and a Fellow of the National Institute for Teaching Ethics & Professionalism (NIFTEP), based at Georgia State University, USA. He has published a number of articles in accredited journals and his academic field of interest is Clinical Legal Education. In 2019 he was awarded the Stellenbosch University Institutional Teaching Excellence Award in the category 'Scholarly Teacher'. The award is based on experience and leadership in the scholarship of teaching and learning. He lectures Civil Procedure, Practical Legal Training and Legal Skills at the Faculty of Law, University of Stellenbosch.
Honors and Awards
- University of Stellenbosch Teaching Excellence Award - 2019
- United Nations ‘E4J Ethics Champion’ Grant - 2019
- Grant from Research Committee of Faculty of Law - 2018
- Grant from the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) - 2018
- Grant from Research Committee of Faculty of Law - 2017
- Grant from Fund for Innovation and Research into Learning and Teaching (FIRLT) - 2017
- "Towards Designing a Validated Framework for Improved Clinical Legal Education: Empirical Research on Student and Alumni Feedback" Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal 2020(23) 1-31
- “Too simple for National Credit Act matters: Reconsidering the scope of Magistrates’ Court Rule 5(2)(b)" 2019 SALJ 136(3) 397-403
- “Traversing the South African Emolument Attachment Order Legal Landscape Post 2016: Quo Vadis ?” 2019 30(1) Stell LR 77 - 96
- “Contemporary challenges facing law clinics” De Rebus November 2018: 15 - 16
- “Robots and the Law” (With Richards-Bray, Hardy and East) European Foundation for Management Development Global Focus Journal 2018 (3) 12: 46 - 49
- “Different Methods of Teaching and Learning: Simulated Exercises” Law Clinics and the Clinical Law Movement in South Africa (2018) 217-219
- “Teaching Portfolio: Civil Trial Advocacy” Law Clinics and the Clinical Law Movement in South Africa (2018) 343-364
- “A Case Study in Advocating for Expanded Clinical Legal Education: The University of Stellenbosch Module” 2017 28(3) Stell LR 679-701
- “Cautioning the careless writer: The importance of accurate and ethical legal writing” 2014 Journal for Juridical Science 39(2):23‑52
- “Lacking proper judgment?” Letter to editor: De Rebus January 2013
- “Objections in Civil Litigation by P van den Heever” 2011 22(1) Stell LR 228 – 230 [Book review]
- “Failure to discharge. A discussion of the insufficient legal recourse afforded to judgment debtors in the South African context” 2008 Journal for Juridical Science Special Issue: 71 – 86
- “Litigation Skills for South African Lawyers by CG Marnewick” 2005 16(1) Stell LR 165 – 167 [Book review]
Presentations and lectures at national and international forums
- “Increasing access to justice through Clinical Legal Education” online guest lecture delivered at School of Law Christ University, Bangalore, India on 13 April 2022.
- “Increasing access to justice: How University Law Clinics can contribute to alleviating poverty by making an impact in their community and beyond” delivered at the Online Access to Justice Roundtable Discussion of University Hasselt, Belgium, 2 July 2021.
- “Consumer law case discussion: Stellenbosch University Law Clinic & Others v Lifestyle Legal & Others – Western Cape High Court” delivered at the Fourth Bi-Annual University of Pretoria International Consumer Law Conference, 21-23 September 2020.
- “Strategies to protect consumer rights” presented at the Open Society Foundations Abusive Lending Community of Practice Convening in Naples, Italy on 22 November 2019.
- "Spotlighting innovative accountability strategies" (discussion as member of expert panel) delivered at the Open Society Foundation: Justice Initiative Pan-African Convening on Abusive Lending Practices and Social Protection in Nairobi, Kenya on 1 November 2019.
- “South African debt industry’s ‘dirty little secret’” delivered at the 10th Annual African Debt Collection Convention, held at Emperor’s Palace, Johannesburg on 12 September 2019.
- “Negotiating the South African emolument attachment order legal landscape” delivered as part of the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry training roadshows in Durban, East London, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg during August to October 2019.
- “What are Legal Ethics & Why Do They Matter When Addressing Injustice?” delivered at the National Institute for Teaching Ethics & Professionalism (NIFTEP) Fall Workshop, held at Melbourne University, Australia on 4 to 6 December 2018.
- “Framing Ethics & Professionalism in a Climate of Uncivility” (discussion as member of expert panel) presented at the National Institute for Teaching Ethics & Professionalism (NIFTEP) Fall Workshop, held at Melbourne University, Australia on 4 to 6 December 2018.
- “Intentional about impact: Changing lives and laws through the work of University Law Clinics” delivered at the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education Conference, held at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia on 28 to 30 November 2018.
- “Advocacy in clinical legal education: presenting real life cases in real life tribunals” (with mr Alan East of Coventry University) delivered at the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education Conference, held at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia on 28 to 30 November 2018.
- “Towards empirical validation of theoretical assumptions in Clinical Legal Education” delivered at the SU Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference in Somerset West on 30 – 31 October 2018.
- “Inculcating ethics in the LLB curriculum: The question is not why, but how?” delivered at the Regional Teaching and Learning Conference of the Law Faculties of UCT, UWC and Stellenbosch University on 13 September 2018.
- “Advocating for expanded clinical legal education” delivered at the Stellenbosch University Law Clinic Conference in Stellenbosch on 19 – 20 July 2018.
- "Early Steps in Employing Double Robot Technology in Clinical Legal Education” delivered at the 4th Writing Skills in Legal Education Conference in Somerset West on 20 – 21 June 2018.
- “Rise of the robot lawyers: Employing Double Robot Technology in Clinical Legal Education” delivered at the 1st African Digital University Network Colloquium in Stellenbosch on 17 to 18 April 2018.
- “What’s wrong with the present state of legal reasoning?” delivered at the 3rd International Advocacy Training Council Conference in Stellenbosch on 2 to 3 April 2018.
- “Changing lives and (occasionally) changing the law: An illustration of the work of University Law Clinics” delivered at the Regent Lecture Theatre, Aberdeen University, Scotland on 22 November 2017.
- “Some Reflections on Teaching Legal Skills Through Clinical Legal Education (CLE)” delivered at Coventry University, England on 15 November 2017.
- “Changing lives and (occasionally) changing the law: An illustration of the work of University Law Clinics” – Keynote address delivered at the Partnerships in Clinical Legal Education Conference at Coventry University, England on 15 November 2017.
- “The present legal challenges in the South African Emolument Attachment Order landscape” delivered at the Dullah Omar Institute Community Engagement Conference at the University of the Western Cape on 2 to 3 August 2017.
- “A discussion of the legal environment relating to Emolument Attachment Orders (“EAO’s”) before and after The University of Stellenbosch Legal Aid Clinic & 15 Others vs The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services & 17 Others” delivered at the 29th Annual Labour Law Conference at Kempton Park, Johannesburg on 24 to 25 August 2016.
- “Failure to discharge. A discussion of the insufficient legal recourse afforded to judgment debtors in the South African context” delivered at the 5th International Journal of Clinical Legal Education Conference, held at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg on 9 to 11 July 2007.
- “Report on the challenges facing University Law Clinics in South Africa“ delivered as National Secretary on behalf of the Association of University Legal Aid Institutions at the Open Society Justice Initiative Legal Clinics Organizations Roundtable, held at Warsaw, Poland on 14 to 17 June 2007.