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<< November 2009  | January 2010 |  February 2010 >>
Department of Transport manipulates road statistics

Every single year the Department of Transport announces road deaths are down.  Reporters attribute this to the Minister etc etc  In fact in 11 years the death toll has doubled annually in South Africa.  So is December a safer period or are the media being fed misleading figures?

This is my guess:

 

*year after year they change the reporting periods

*they announce and take credit for an early figure that does not include accidents not reported to them yet by various police stations and people who will still tragically die in hospital sometime after their accidents (which make the toll a bit higher by 30% on average)

*the next year they compare the real figure of the year before to the figures not including the above data and voila! – we once again have a reduction

*strangely enough the media releases from previous years invariably do not remain on the Department of Transport’s site

 

They have however not removed last year’s January press release yet:  http://www.transport.gov.za/communication_centre_sub.aspx?upd=1&comID=384&ssID=77

 

The media have reported that 1348 people died last year – but as this release shows, at the time they announced 937 deaths and that from 1 December to 5 January (a longer period than this year).  Now they announce 1050 this year and that they beat last year’s figure.  The stats are a laugh and when people are dying - and in increasing numbers - its not a laughing matter.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 04-Jan-10   |  Permalink   |  19 Comments  Comments
The Times article

The Times have run an article on the accident stats being manipulated that quotes me.  Now the Department say stats don't matter so much - while other papers are full of praise for the Department on their reduced stats - based of course on incorrect data.  The link to the article - http://www.timeslive.co.za/news/article248965.ece

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 05-Jan-10   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  Comments
Complaint about robots or taffic in Johannesburg? Who u gonna call?

I always feel it’s up to all of us to take action more often and not just grumble.  If nobody, for example, reports an out of order traffic light, how do you expect it will be fixed?  I guess we all assume somebody else has taken the trouble to call in or complain.  Here are some details where you can report something out of order – or complain - if you do see robots out of order or have traffic issues and you live in Johannesburg, Sandton or Fourways – the Johannesburg Roads Agency can be e-mailed at hotline@jra.org.za or faxed at 011 2985173. You can also call 011 375-5555.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 06-Jan-10   |  Permalink   |  45 Comments  Comments
Moneyweb on accident stats

 An article on Moneyweb about the accident stats can be found here http://www.moneyweb.co.za/mw/view/mw/en/page295023?oid=338842&sn=2009+Detail&pid=287226

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 07-Jan-10   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Daily Maverick

 The Daily Maverick has run a story on the death toll stats.  It can be read here: http://www.thedailymaverick.co.za/article/2010-01-08-traffic-deaths-spin-doctors-vs-the-media .  It was certainly interesting to see all the back pedaling last week.  I think they grasped the whole point very well and to quote them: "By asserting the “preliminary” nature of the statistics, the Transport Department was playing all innocent. We are just providing you the facts as we have them, they were saying. Actually, they were not."

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 11-Jan-10   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Profession in crisis

The one thing that has never ceased to amaze me, particularly when I look in my own offices, is the more work that is lost to the attorneys’ profession, the more people seem to be studying to become attorneys and/or advocates.  Very few current students seem to realise that almost every firm in this country either has at its core or base, or did have, either conveyancing or personal injury claims against the Road Accident Fund.  The reality is Road Accident Fund work as we knew it, came to an end on 1 August 2008, and most firms are simply winding  down the work that they have whilst signing up one or two cases based on the new law and hoping that a challenge on the old law succeeds, which if it does, such as in respect of the common law aspect, will not leave as many financially viable cases as there were in the past, given the lack of insurance and no assets of probably 50% of the drivers on the road. 

Many think that conveyancing will return to its glory days in only a year or two and that the market will rebound.  That is patent nonsense, and the only people who would say that are either hopeful estate agents or people who don’t appreciate that the reason for the worldwide recession, the financial problems and the property market that we find ourselves in at the moment, is simply because banks were lending too much money to people who could not afford repayments on those loans.  The property market will only recover to its previous heights and volumes, in terms of sales, when the banks forget what caused this last drama and start again lending money to people who cannot afford it.  That is not likely to happen in a hurry, certainly not faster than 10 to 15 years in my opinion, and the National Credit Act should hopefully ensure that we don’t have such reckless lending again.   Attorneys of course long ago largely lost to debt collectors until contingency fees were allowed - too late to save many practices – and estates that have always been lucrative have pretty much been taken over by banks and estate companies, nobody would even remember that attorneys were meant to be experts on tax some decades ago and that has been lost to accountants and so on, through various fields of law.  It is not to say that if somebody is studying law now is making a mistake – in fact, in my experience as little as 30% or 40% of people with a law degree actually go into practice law and I don’t think it is always just because they cannot find articles, which is a problem in itself, but perhaps it is related to the fact that a law degree does give you certain business skills and many find themselves more happy and secure in a corporate environment. 

If that has been the case in the past, what I am saying is that it is going to be even more true of the future and there is certainly going to be much less work around, much less demand for attorneys and even fewer clients who can pay for that work.  The legal profession itself and its loss of interest on the accounts of conveyancers and attorneys doing plaintiff Road Accident Fund work and those figures are certainly going to come crashing down in a year or two when the majority of attorneys have finished the bulk of their work.  Already, income from conveyancing transactions is down, not to mention the fact that interest rates are lower, meaning that less interest is earned on trust accounts than before.  All in all, in my opinion, it is a very gloomy picture of more and more attorneys competing for the very few remaining economically viable fields of law.  Would I encourage my daughters to become attorneys?  Not a chance.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 12-Jan-10   |  Permalink   |  9 Comments  Comments
Retrenchments not far off in legal profession

The pressure that the Road Accident Fund has created with the various direct payment threats and the pressure over the new act coming (as it eventually did on 1 August 2008) has resulted in plaintiff attorneys certainly making sure over the last few years that they have rushed to lodge their claims faster and coupled with the end of the work, led to more and more attorneys taking on smaller claims than perhaps they would have in the past.  We currently have a situation where there are probably more claims lodged with the Road Accident Fund in 2008 than ever before and with the Road Accident Fund, in my opinion, effectively outsourcing the work of settling claims to its attorneys, there has been a tremendous demand for attorneys, paralegals and secretaries for attorneys involved in this work in the last 2 or 3 years. 

That, just as we have seen in the stock market, and in the housing market, has created a bubble in terms of their salaries and in my opinion that bubble is going to burst and it is going to start happening towards the end of 2010, and certainly by 2011.  In short, what I am saying is that we are going to see a lot more retrenchments and salary negotiations that would most definitely favour the employer compared to more recent years.  The reality is that there are far too many attorneys and other employees involved in handling this work, at the average law firm at the moment, than will be required in 6 months time and certainly in 18 months time, and one can imagine that all but a few firms, that we are going to start seeing retrenchments and the like. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 14-Jan-10   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Business Day article

Business Day have an article on the next Road Accident Fund Act on the way, where we can expect no fault, low compensation and more laws aimed at trying to eliminate attorneys from assisting the public claim proper compensation.  The article can be read here: http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=91087

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 13-Jan-10   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Bills of costs

Once again there are problems with payments on bills of cost drawn in the Magistrates’ Court.  As most of you know, the Road Accident Fund tries to encourage one into block settlements but when it comes to payment their staff is allegedly advised to give preference to writs – something which I fully understand, but then it forces one to proceed with writs yourself.  That is a little bit difficult if of course, all along the line, you have been honouring their request to attend block settlements!  Once again, ultimately a more hostile approach will have to be taken by all attorneys, and we will no doubt hear Jacob Modise quoted in the media again about the approach of attorneys and the utilisation of the Sheriff of the Court, etc.  The reality of the matter is who is it that forces us to do this each time?   

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Saturday 16-Jan-10   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Lawyers - more and more - and less work

I found an article in the New York Times to be of interest to attorneys here - its about how lawyers in America are being retrenched, earning less and generally struggling to get clients and make a living.  Incidentally, the number of law graduates in the united States is up 20% this year on the year before and has reached all time record highs!  Read the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/17/fashion/17lawyer.html?scp=3&sq=lawyers&st=cse

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 19-Jan-10   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
New Magistrates Court rules on the way

The new rules have been published in a third draft and we understand that they plan to have it in place as soon as 1 March 2010, without any further comments.  The changes are quite dramatic, and attorneys doing Road Accident Fund matters will have to look at this work and see some of the specific references with regard to medico legal appointments and things like that.  In addition to that, time periods change, distances change – for example you only now need to supply an address within 15 kilometres of the court and not 8 kilometres as before.  You have 10 days to enter an appearance to defend a matter and 20 days to file your plea.  Like in the High Court, the dies stop running from approximately 16 December to 15 January each year and you will have to take that into consideration before issuing notices of bar.  There are new forms for all of the notices, although you can continue to use the old forms, subject to alteration (you may as well then use the new forms) for one year.  It is very interesting, for example, that when you file your notice of intention to defend, you need to specify an e-mail address as well as the fax number and whether or not pleadings may be exchanged in this way.  If you don’t agree to filing of pleadings in that way, the plaintiff can proceed to court and bring an appropriate application.  One imagines that firms that are involved in extensive amounts of litigation are going to have to set a certain catch-all address, and set up some sort of security protocol to make sure that they don’t miss a single e-mail because that could be pretty fateful!  As I have told you before, because it was the subject of which I made representations, summonses will, just as in the High Court, no longer lapse.  The majority of these provisions basically made the rules in the Magistrates’ Court much more similar, if not identical, to the ones in the High Court.  I have only had a cursory glance at them, but any attorney doing Magistrates’ Court work is going to need to be an expert on the subject shortly.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 28-Jan-10   |  Permalink   |  13 Comments  Comments

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