Those of you who followed my continued problems with the World Cup, and I did eventually get one set of tickets to the semi-final, plus some other interesting games, but not the final, will be interested to hear the latest developments.When it came to the FIFA Confederations Cup, which is being held in June, and which is where all my problems started with the website, I ended up ultimately having to go in and buy the tickets myself at the offices opened in Sandton.I must say that it is the most difficult, and unfriendly website I have ever seen, and everything about the process, from getting e-mails telling you that you will be told in about 7 or 8 days whether your tickets are allocated, as opposed to immediately, it is incredibly frustrating and hard to understand.
I recently did a survey for the Johannesburg Attorneys Association, about the proposed new rules that the Law Society of the Northern Provinces wants to put forward with regard to expert witness reports.57% of you are in favour that expert witness reports must be supplied to the opposing party no later than two months before the trial date.43% obviously oppose that.The proposal that joint minutes by experts must be done at least six weeks before the trial is a much closer-run issue with 48% saying yes and the majority of you, being 52% are saying no and that obviously six weeks is too long before the trial date.Insofar as the suggestion is made that if expert notices are not done in time, being two months, the expert witnesses cannot be used at trial, 41% of you are in agreement with this and the majority being 59% are not in agreement with this.The suggestion that the rules be changed to prohibit late notices of amendment is agreed with by only 30% of you and the vast majority, being 70% of you are not in favour of this.
I thought I would give a further update on the survey I did with regard to the suggested expert rule changes in the High Court, as proposed by the Law Society of the Northern Provinces.The comments were particularly interesting and I will quote some of those.A plaintiff attorney wrote, “The proposed changes will be abused by defendants intent on frustrating needy plaintiffs.”A well-known defendant attorney wrote, “Long overdue.”Others mentioned the pressure of work and unavailability of counsel and experts would make it very difficult to support lengthening the time periods.Two or three mentioned that the current 10 days is not long enough but that two months is excessive and that the time frame should be closer to 20 days.Another attorney wrote, “Not practical.With certain experts overbooked at the moment, this could lead to chaos.Also I doubt the defendants’ attorneys will be organised enough to handle matters under these circumstances.”Some defendant attorneys wrote that it is impossible to prepare properly when you receive such amendments, which turn the whole place upside down basically, in some cases from R100 000,00 to R5 million with two days to go.Overall, I must say, just reading the comments, that if there was a suggestion that the current rule of 10 days be changed to 20 days, I would expect probably about a 90% approval rate for that.There appears to be a consensus that the current time frame is too short, but that in agreeing that the time period should be extended to two months or to a longer time, most of you do not want to be prejudiced by this and not be able to then use your experts in court or be prohibited from filing amendments, a proposal that certainly did not meet with support.To summarise, the rules providing for 20 day notices, with probably a 10 or 15 day prohibition on amendments, would probably find support and I will put that to the Law Society.
I am hearing a few complaints about payment issues with the Road Accident Fund again - payments not being made and attorneys struggling to get payments. If you are having similar problems please add your comments.
Just ahead of next week's hearing the RAF has withdrawn its Direct Payment "notice". It cites as reasons that the notice and process may contain flaws. They ominously advise "Further communication with regards to the Direct Payment System will be provided in due course."
The headmaster of Parktown Boys, and whoever is advising him, if indeed there is somebody, has to get the prize for the most badly handled situation of the year.You have a situation where initiation gets out of hand, and anybody intelligent who has been to boys high schools and who knows how it gets out of hand, certainly knows that it needs to be dealt with at some schools.Somebody gets assaulted, and instead of saying, “We are so sorry, we will sort it out”, the school takes the approach that the person who has complained about their son being assaulted is in fact persecuting them (although she is really up against it) and tries to make them the villain of the peace.Such a ridiculous approach is never going to work, and what amazes me, is that with all that publicity they are getting on Radio 702 and in The Star newspaper, that they continue to believe that attacking the complainant is the correct approach.If ever a school is in need of hiring some PR consultants, to urgently come and advise them how to handle the situation properly, it is Parktown Boys.It amazes one, that whoever is in charge of the strategy, continues to believe that their approach is working and if this was a private company, whoever it is that is making the decisions, quite simply should be asked to fall on their sword or be fired.
Direct payment issue in Court tomorrow - RAF matters
The matter of the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) v the Road Accident Fund (RAF) and the Minister of Transport has been set down for hearing tomorrow, 11 June 2009, in the Western Cape High Court, Cape Town.
The application seeks
to review and set aside the RAF’s decision, announced in July 2008, to implement its so-called ‘direct payment system’; and
a final interdict preventing the RAF from implementing and enforcing the ‘direct payment system’.
LAW SOCIETY TO PURSUE FINAL COURT ORDER AGAINSTROAD ACCIDENT FUND ‘DIRECT PAYMENT SYSTEM’ WHICH DEPRIVES ROAD ACCIDENT VICTIMS OF LEGAL REPRESENTATION TO OBTAIN REASONABLE COMPENSATION FROM RAF
Tomorrow the Western Cape High Court, Cape Town, will be asked by the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) to set aside the ‘direct payment system’ imposed last year by the Road Accident Fund (RAF).
The case is the sequel to a successful urgent application by the LSSA last August suspending the operation of the direct payment system until the present case could be brought. Acting Judge President Traverso granted the LSSA, a paraplegic road accident victim, Mr Luvoyo Mbele, and the South African Association of Personal Injury Lawyers an urgent interdict against the RAF, with a punitive costs order, in view of its conduct in the case.
Last week the RAF – having failed to file any opposing argument – wrote to the LSSA asserting that, because the RAF now intended to publish in the media a notice withdrawing its decision to impose the ‘direct payment system’, and was offering to pay the three applicants’ costs (again on a punitive scale), the court challenge had become ‘moot’.
In response the LSSA has accepted the costs tender but disputed that the legal challenge is moot: there is no proof that the RAF Board has yet taken a proper decision to undo its decisions to adopt and then implement the direct payment system, and in the past it has acted with such irregularity and against the public good, that a final court order against it is in any event necessary.
The attack by the LSSA on the RAF’s decision is on both procedural and substantive grounds. In short, the LSSA argues that the RAF acted irregularly in taking its decision on 30 October 2007 affecting tens of thousands of road accident victims and legal practitioners without proper notice to them, and then keeping this secret until it announced the implementation of the system on a week’s notice in July last year. Substantively, the LSSA argues, the direct payment system is in clear breach of constitutional rights and is irrational and unreasonable. It is designed to ensure that road accident victims – many the most vulnerable members of society – will not, in the result, have effective legal representation in their battles to achieve compensation from the RAF.
Jacob Modise is quoted in the Cape Times as saying that the final interdict had confirmed the RAF's right to re-start the direct payment system. The only problem had been the flawed procedure. I guess this means Round 2 will begin soon.
Obviously, each person has their own way of knowing whether or not we are in a recession and we all have different ways of trying to follow whether we think the economy is on its way up or has bottomed out.One factor that one can look at is the room rate charged by hotels and we can see when it is on the way down, with more and more specials being offered and when it is on the way up.A somewhat negative side in that regard would be the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay, who are advertising the single room rate now as being just R1 080,00 – a price I have never heard of at that particular hotel!You may have your own factors and trends that you follow, and I would be interested to hear your comments.
The Olympics, in my opinion, continue to add more and more irrelevant sports where you can win gold medals. Show jumping, for example, a sport which only the truly wealthy can take part in is not something, in my opinion, that qualifies for the Olympic Games. Amongst the sports currently trying to get into the 2016 Summer Olympics are rugby, baseball, golf, karate, roller sports, softball and squash. I, for example, have never heard of roller sports and it astounds me that golf even has to make a presentation to the Olympics. The IOC should be only too lucky if golf were to become involved in the Olympics. I don’t think that the average person, who does not play golf, is aware of the growth of the game in the last 30 years as well as the economics of golf, golf tourism and the overall numbers playing the sport – which far exceed those involved in any of those other sports I have just mentioned, and most other sports already at the Olympics. The presentations have been made and the International Olympic Committee will recommend two sports at its next meeting on 13 August 2009.
Golf is obviously one of my topics this week, but it is the US Open, one of the four majors. It has been played at Beth Page Black just outside of New York and obviously Tiger Woods would be the favourite, especially considering his most recent performance. I make no bones of the fact that he is certainly the person that I would like to meet the most in the entire world, and I believe, for many years, that he will be considered as the greatest sportsman of this entire century. He has a talent, the likes of which I don’t believe there has ever been in any sport, and to dominate one that also relies on chance and the mental aspects, so thoroughly, for so long, means that I simply don’t believe that there is any sportsman in any other sport who can compete. In any event, having said that, there are 7 South Africans in the tournament and the one thing that I have learnt, and it is not from personal experience, is that betting on Ernie Els is the best way to lose credibility and/or throw away your money! The South Africans in form of late have been Tim Clark and Retief Goosen has also come back to form, although he is quite capable of dramatically losing an event also. In other words, he makes more rash errors than do most players. In excellent recent form, although he has got a very late invitation to the tournament, is a guy by the name of Brian Gay, who one must fancy but I always support Tiger followed by whichever South African is doing best. With the cut after two rounds you can be sure that probably three or four of the South Africans would be eliminated at that stage and we will have to see who is doing well – and Ernie normally does, just after I have publicly written him off!
House sales continue to drop and from a legal point of view, the volumes of deeds lodged at the Pretoria Deeds Office have already dropped from approximately 6 000 a month to 1 800 a month. In other words, there are only 30% of the transactions going through the Deeds Office that there was approximately 1 year ago. This actually paints a far bleaker picture than any media reports have thus far. In addition to that, the Deeds Office has now increased their fees in October 2008 by 25%.
An article in the Sowetan today about two attorneys whom Police are looking for who allegedly defrauded their clients and kept all the money. Read it here. I find these stories most disturbing - just simply shocking that some attorneys can take their client's money. The police cannot find either of them and have appealed to the public for leads.
I see Hyde Park is an area that is continuing to grow and there is a particularly quickly built Southern Sun Hotel emerging on top of Hyde Park Corner.It is not a shopping centre with the greatest entrance, but one imagines that a hotel such as that is certainly going to add to it and its surrounding area. I am particularly excited to see when they start building the extra towers that we are told are going to be built on top of Sandton City as residential units as well as offices – you can always spot Sandton from many kilometres away, by first looking for the cranes!Hotels are popping up and more residential units mean that if nothing else, traffic in the area is certainly going to get worse!
There was a quick and fairly good response to the Road Accident Fund survey.The first question was whether or not members thought that Jacob Modise would try to implement direct payments again and 77% said yes and 23% of you said no.Amongst those who said no, the reasons given as contained on the comments on lawblog.co.za included the fact that these pronouncements were made, and in the mind of members, simply for face-saving efforts.
The constitutional challenges that members asked about the most at the moment and the survey revealed that 7% of you felt that the whole process would be finished within 6 months and 8% of you felt that it would take more than 4 years.The rest came somewhere in the middle with 17% suggesting one year, 23% suggesting 18 months, 28% is saying 2 years and 17% at 3 years.In short though, you could say that 51% of members felt that it would take 18 months to 2 years from now before the case was finalised in the Constitutional Court where it will no doubt end up.25% of you have already retrenched staff as a result of the changes in the law and 75% have not retrenched staff yet.What surprised me the most was that 20% of members of the database continue to take on claims where there is no claim in terms of the new law on the basis that they believe the constitutional challenge will succeed.Considering whatever the result of a constitutional case is, it is unlikely to be retrospective and such a large percentage of you think it is going to take more than 2 years, those 20% are obviously the gambling type!
One of the websites that I find particularly useful is a website www.payfine.co.za where you can register by registering your ID number and you can quite simply then get information as to the fines that you have incurred.A new feature that they recently seem to have added is sending you an e-mail giving you the latest infringements, which is particularly useful if anyone is driving a car of yours for your business, and incurring fines so that you do get notification of it and the chance to sort out the fine before they arrest you!
So much news yesterday, and a brave Bafana Bafana held on for almost the whole game against Brazil. I think the thing people will be talking about today, because he was certainly the biggest pop star of our generation, will be the death of Michael Jackson. I went to his concert when he came to South Africa although I was never the biggest fan, but one cannot deny that he was extremely talented. He made the news repeatedly for all the wrong reasons, buit one always feels a sense of shock when someone from your time dies.
I have enjoyed reading the comments on the blog recently, and notice quite a few on the issue of what work attorneys should be taking on in light of the law changes. I am conservative and do not take on work that does not qualify in terms of the new Act and was surprised that so many attorneys are taking on cases on the basis that they are confident that a quick, successful result will be achieved. I discussed this with a senior attorney the other day who also expressed his surprise but as he said each attorney must read the laws and decide for themselves. One cannot say don't take on X type of case and then a surprise legislative or judicial decision opens up that area for example. Personally I would rather take a conservative approach and set up a database of claims that I do not believe are worthwhile under the new law, as it stands now, and then decide later what to do depending on decisions. One can always call people back then if they have not signed up with other attorneys.
Regular readers of mine will know that I’ve always written about all of my troubles with getting tickets, and the whole World Cup ticket booking process.I attended the final of the Confed Cup to see the United States play Brazil, and I enjoyed the whole experience.Firstly, I must say that the vuvuzelas are the latest fashion item required to attend sports events with, and they were clearly being blown more by the kind of people you would expect to be phoning into radio stations complaining about them, than you may have thought.In fact, having tried it myself, it is not that easy to blow them straightaway and I found that you have to move your lips almost into a kiss-like shape, and then blow in a particular way, before you can get it to actually make a noise.My daughter certainly has not been able to get it to make any noise at all!The atmosphere in the stadium was amazing, with a very diverse crowd and perhaps because I was sitting in R1 400,00 seats, although those were pretty high up in the stadium, it certainly seemed like a very upmarket crowd.I would not expect anything less I guess, although the final of the World Cup where, if you had been lucky enough to have your name pulled out of the hat, or the computer draw, you would have paid R6 400,00 for your ticket to the final.I did my best, but I never even got the chance to pay the R6 400,00 and I guess we will all have to take part in a ticket frenzy on Bid or Buy or some other website closer to the time!The park and ride system works quite well and I parked at my old University, namely Wits, and then caught a bus which seemed to go on an extraordinary route to the stadium, but it certainly got there fast enough.The problem is not so much in the getting there, but the getting back and on the way back we probably had to stand for about 40 minutes before we got our chance to get into what was certainly a very upmarket taxi and head back towards Wits.The long and short of it and dropping off a friend included, meant that I got to bed at about 12.30, so there are certainly plus factors to staying at home and watching it all on the HD channel.