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<< June 2006  | July 2006 |  August 2006 >>
A small village - or a town - never a City!
I had a number of dealings with colleagues recently - and this is a short story of the good and the bad!

Incidentally, in one case they both came from the same firm - and the reaction could not have been more different.  The senior partner had a short, and polite conversation with me, and resolved I believed, what could have been a problem.  The other person from the firm in fact has terminated my mandate in a matter and wants to proceed without a contribution towards costs - yes, in short she wants a favour from me - and what did she write to me "please keep all correspondence in writing etc" or words to that effect.  Well, you have a surprise coming your way if you expect a reply (or my file) anytime soon!  There are better ways to obtain a favour!  Of course, that also illustrates the difference between a senior partner and his staff and why the senior partner is precisely that!

The point to stress gain is to try and have courtesy when dealing with your colleagues.  You only need to take 1 international trip in your life and spend  less than a day in any major city to appreciate that we stay in  a village - and it is only a matter of time before your staff or Counsel work for or with the colleague you are giving a hard time.  It really does not make sense is a small town (I just upgraded the village) to sit and provoke colleagues unnecessarily - behave with decency. 

If, to take another example where I recently had to advise a colleague, there is no agreement between your colleague and the Radiologist, and you obviously know it, don't threaten civil claims and a Law Society complaint against your colleagues.  Firstly, you know you don't have one, and secondly, the Law Society have no  jurisdiction to listen to the matter (at this point) - so why not only antagonize your colleague, but also show him or her that you simply don't have any idea as to how the Law Society operates and are just a colleague who tries to achieve goals by any method, irrespective of whether it works or not!  The Attorneys Act provides for the suspension of the enquiry in such circumstances and while that provision is not going to be put in place when there is a R10 million shortage in your trust account, you can rest assured that when Doctor X is owed R30 000 for various reports which he will be paid when the matters are finalized, and they are not, that you are acting in particularly poor taste when you threaten a colleague with action they won't be hearing!  It amazing how many colleagues act on behalf of specialists who now, after consulting with their attorney, seem to recall an onus on one to report back every 3 months on progress or other such nonsense!  Don't let yourself be intimidated and have the good grace to deal with your colleagues with respect when you are on the other side. 
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 17-Jul-06   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
RAF Act comes into effect on 31 July
Will come into effect on 31 July, according to surprising news that has already been gazetted.  One of the provisions that will not be coming into effect, right now, as the removal of the common law right so while you will not be able to claim general damages against the Road Accident Fund in many cases, you will be able, for an interim period at least, to claim them from the guilty party.  The provisions come into place on 31 July -- so essentially, this weekend is the end of the current system.
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 25-Jul-06   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments

What chaos today.  Some colleagues are most unappreciative of the work done and seem to think we are paid to take 8 hours of calls and demands from secretaries and who knows who else.

For those who asked, here are all the links you need:

Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill

The Regulations are up on our site at:

The proclamation of 19 July 2006:

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 25-Jul-06   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Colleagues - same old story
I have always said that when, and that's a when and not and if, the RAF legislation changes, that the JAA is going to receive a barrage of calls about what have we done, what are we planning to do and why didn't we ask for help.  Those of you who've followed what I have written over the years will no doubt be the first to concede that.  You would have thought that today was in fact that day such was the nature of the calls received at the offices of the Association and the insistence of some members who phoned the offices of committee members demanding to obtain information.  One member phoned up our secretary and said that her connections at the Road Accident Fund as well is within the Department of Justice had confirmed to her that there was no proclamation of any aspects of the Road Accident Fund Act at tall and that this was just a fabrication of the JAA.  Another, phoned the offices astounded to discover that there was a new Act!  Still more, phoned and demanded that the regulations and the act were sent through to them when we have advertised it repeatedly in e-mails complete with links to it.  At times like that, you often pray that in fact you are talking to the attorneys receptionist/assistant, who was only pretending to be an attorney, because the stupidity of some of the calls beggars belief and quite frankly, and it needs to be said, these people shouldn't be representing anybody.  Others still, had simply been abusive including putting down the telephone on our secretary.

Then, there were the decent informative callers, such as André Calitz of Josephs Inc, who phoned to tell us that we had got the story wrong, while conceding the Proclamation was poorly worded, and that he had been reliably informed that the Department of Transport intended legislating changes effectively to the Board and their operational requirements only.  I hear what he says, and it's exactly what I have been told by a "director" with in the Department of Transport but I have to say, that is not the way that I read the proclamation for the reasons stated in an RAF newsletter article of 25 July.  I'm not saying that is not what they intended, it may well be, but if that is the case then not only is that Proclamation an embarrassment, but we have a disgrace unfolding before us which is not that different to the pharmaceutical case when the legislation was enacted without the regulations, upon which it was dependent, being in place.  Gosh, doesn't that sound familiar now?!  The truth is, I'm praying Andre is right and I must tell you that I cannot see how one can read the proclamation referring as it does to section 13 and then to sections 4 and 6 of the same Act of 2005 and then assume that in fact the legislature while referring to the 2005 Act specifically and various sections in it etc are in fact referring to the 1995 act and sections 1 through to four of the 2005 amendment, which are amending that.  In any event, I'm not going to repeat the argument here.  All I will say is that I would also prefer to believe Andre's reading of the Act, but I cannot for the life of me see that a Court will read it that way and I also cannot see, as he suggested to me, that they can simply amend a faulty Proclamation, should there be any confusion, by a new notice in the Government Gazette.  My understanding is certainly that the matter will have to be challenged and hopefully it will not be left to the Johannesburg attorneys Association, with its limited membership and funding, to fight such a case when there are bigger organizations with far more money in the bank than we will ever have.  The JAA have done an awful lot in this fight and those in the know, such as Law Society President Ronald Bobroff, have rightly given us and our publicity campaign the credit we deserve in slowing down the process that would have been steamrolled already last year if the Department had had its way.

Please don't see it as a sign of disrespect for a colleague when I, or other committee members, cannot or do not take your calls.  Unfortunately, the calls only come to when there is dramatic news in a newsletter and we aren't paid for the work that we do.  We also have practices to run and when you literally have 50 colleagues calling during the course of the day, some of whom abuse one's receptionist, and all "just want 10 minutes of your time", you just can't take the calls.  It's not rude, it's the reality and there is no ways that we can write articles, track down the news and then still give "extra" information on the telephone or "better explanations".  You can't.  That's been the concept behind this newsletter from day one and it is still now, and like everything, it's for you to accept - you want to receive the newsletter that brings you the information first and is almost always, but not necessarily so, correct - or would you rather not receive it and have nothing to gripe about?  That's the question.

It's the same as a media campaign, we asked for volunteers so many times and got not one.  One defendant attorney, at a large firm, told me and that the Road Accident Fund will always be difficult on my cases and force us to run the whole way because of the campaign and yet, when you get no other volunteers apart from Leigh and Ronald, you also receive criticism from colleagues who describe you as loving the media.  Sure, and wait for them to open the line for callers about the proposed changes - because the callers don't want to talk about that, they want to complain about attorneys and you never know what question is coming next you certainly don't get business from that type of publicity!  As Ronald will tell you of his show on Radio 702, and our own Nakka de Klerk has told us of the times when she was a regular on television, it doesn't bring in work - but it sucks out hours of your time.  You do it because you enjoy it of course, but most importantly, because you believe in the issue and believe that you can address it properly.  You won't get thanks and you don't really expect them. 

When the secretary of the JAA asked me today what should she say to all of the callers who were phoning her and making various demands I said to her than I wish she was in a position to ask firstly, how much money have you contributed towards the cause and secondly, because it's easier to give money than it is to give time, how much time had you contributed towards the cause?  To ask any member who phoned in "have you sent through comments to the Department of Transport on the regulations?"  Because, as you all know, we have suggested it repeatedly, because the more of you who apply your minds, the better and we haven't hired advocates to comment on the regulations, we have hired them for an opinion on the constitutionality of an act with particular reference to the common law issue, which however you read the proclamation, is not a consideration at this time.

We asked, in an e-mail that was sent not only to our 1300 members, but to over 5000 attorneys in Gauteng that any attorney who submitted comments to the Department of Transport on the regulations forward a copy to us because we know what "happened" to comments in the past and we want to help ensure that the department receives all of them.  Guess how many we got?  As many as the calls I'm going to answer on the newsletter. Zero.
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 25-Jul-06   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Swazi MVA fund bankrupt

The Swazi MVA Fund has gone bankrupt.  Something to think about.  Read the article here...........

Shock as MVA is reported broke
By Alec Lushaba

Relatives and victims of road accidents may not be paid a cent, as the Motor Vehicle Fund (MVA), otherwise known as Sincemphetelo is bankrupt.

A report by the Ministry of Finance on the implementation of the Privatisation Policy indicates that the Fund has no capacity to compensate new road accident victims.
Read the rest of the article here.........

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Saturday 29-Jul-06   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
DOT press release

Below is the text of a press release issued by the Department of Transport which maybe why it calls the JAA the JLA.....

RAF Proclamation is wrong, says Transport Department

Johannesburg, 27 July 2006 Sapa

The government will issue a corrected proclamation on the Road Accident Fund on Friday as the original proclamation is wrong, the department of transport said. "There's going to be a reproclamation tomorrow (Friday)," said department spokesman Collen Msibi.

"There was an error. We're going to be regazetting." The incorrect proclamation, issued on July 19 by President Thabo Mbeki and Minister of Transport Jeff Radebe, said that sections 4, 6, 10, 11 and 12 of the Road Accident Fund Amendment Act of 2005 would come into operation from Monday, July 31.

These are the sections of the act which deal with payouts for road accident injuries. These sections of the act are controversial, as they cut payments for anything except serious injuries and set a limit on the payments. Regulations in terms of the payment sections are still out for public comment until Friday, July 28.

Msibi said the payment sections would not come into effect until the regulations had gone through the process of public commentary and been finalised. "The situation is that what is coming into effect on Monday is just the part dealing with government issues -- how to appoint a board and the functions of the board," said Msibi.

The Johannesburg Lawyers Association (JLA) welcomed the reproclamation but said the error should not have been allowed to happen. "I'm glad there is now clarity," said JLA spokeswoman Leigh de Souza.

"It's a crazy situation." She said the reproclamation did not detract from the bigger problems with the act. She said the sections of the act dealing with injuries and the regulations on this were problematic due to the limitations and "too vague" to implement. She said if they were implemented unchanged they would be "catastrophic".

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 31-Jul-06   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Latest Proclamation
The latest Gazette can be found here.......
www.jaa.org.za/docs/1-29086 31-7 Transp.pdf  

Of course can the State President "review" his own decisions and just correct law by printing new notices?  Some of us don't think so!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 31-Jul-06   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments

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