Debt collection, management and mediation

It has been said that one can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. In many instances debt is recoverable by means of a cordial phone call. Sometimes a stronger nudge is needed in the form of a letter of demand, draft summons and warrant of execution. A combination of both approaches, will in most cases yield a positive outcome.

Desired Module Outcome


At the end of the module, Paralegals must be familiar with all debt collection procedures, from acknowledgements of debt, to listing a debtor with Credit Bureaux, to drafting a basic simple summons for goods sold and delivered, to proceeding in terms of section 65 of the Magistrates Court Act of 1944 for recovery of a debt by way of instalments, deducted through a garnishee order.

Divorce Procedure and Mediation

Some divorces are simple. A marriage with no children and no dispute as to division of assets is an administrative affair that can be disposed of on affidavit. Others require a combination of patience, firmness and stamina. Handling them can be emotionally draining.

Desired Module Outcome


At the end of the module Paralegals must be familiar with the Divorce Act, Matrimonial Properties Act, The Mediation in Certain Divorce Matters Act, must be able to assist with both contested and uncontested divorces, must be familiar with the forms and processes of the Family Advocate, and be able to draft a basic divorce summons and settlement agreement.

Legal Costs

There is a distinction between bills of costs in respect of which a court order has been granted in favour of the winning party, and the invoicing of a client in the normal course in accordance with a legal practitioner’s hourly rate. Both types are vital to any practitioner’s business. There is an art to maximizing the yield on both. It’s fair to say that most Legal Practitioners do not have the time to attend to bills of costs. They are simply too busy with the maelstrom of daily practice which includes fielding pressing urgencies and looming time limits. In as much as the field of legal costs is an entire branch of law on its own, the drawing of a bill of costs is a mechanical process based on pleadings and file notes. Effective billing is the life blood of any operation which depends on billable hours as its stock in trade.

Desired Module Outcome


At the end of the module Paralegals must be able to distinguish between the various costs orders which courts may hand down, from party/party costs to attorney own client costs. They should be able to draw any bill of costs for taxation and be able to attend a taxation for the purposes of arguing in support of the items reflected on a bill, alternatively be able to challenge those items contested in any bill. (Any paralegal may represent parties at these taxations and do not need right of appearance, no formal qualification being necessary in this regard.) Paralegals should be able to draw a client mandate which will include an itemized list of all possible services provided by the operation and the cost in relation to a particular service. Assuming they will be drawing bills for a particular operation on an ongoing basis, they must be able to establish systems and procedures within any particular operation which will facilitate optimal billing, most importantly, the making of short, effective and coherent file notes.

Labour Law

Conventional wisdom has it that Labour Law complicated. It’s not. There are a number of rudiments which must be adhered to in order to comply with the requirements of a disciplinary hearing such as proper notice; proper recording and procedural and substantive fairness. If all the required boxes are ticked, the disciplinary findings will be safe from challenge at any CCMA hearing. There can however never be guarantees in law. Commissioners are human. Sometimes they get it wrong, as do judges. That is why there are appeal processes and higher courts. But in the vast majority of cases, if you do justice to the rules and precepts set out in the statutes and common law, justice will be done to the matter before you. The SAPG provides an infallible template on which to fashion all typical hearings, so that if they are referred to the CCMA and the Labour Court, any decision made at the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing will be upheld.

Desired Module Outcome


Paralegals must be familiar with the Labour Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the POPI Act. They must further be able to conduct a disciplinary hearing from start to finish, and further be familiar with the procedures of the CCMA so as to enable them to represent the employer at any CCMA hearing.

Delictual Claims (Road Accident Fund, Personal Injury, Medico Legal, Wrongful Arrest and Detention, Defamation, Contumelia, Loss of Dignity, Insult)

Claims of this nature can be complex, however once the basics have been mastered, one standard claim looks much like the next. The factor common to all delictual claims is the violation of a civil right. Paralegals are trained in recognising when a valid claim arises, drafting particulars of claim, filling out all necessary forms and lodgement of claims.

Desired Module Outcome


At the end of the module, Paralegals must be familiar with all debt collection procedures, from acknowledgements of debt, to listing a debtor with Credit Bureaux, to drafting a basic simple summons for goods sold and delivered, to proceeding in terms of section 65 of the Magistrates Court Act of 1944 for recovery of a debt by way of instalments, deducted through a garnishee order.

Registration and Management of Trusts (Local and Offshore)

Owing to the limited liability afforded entrepreneurs, the use of a trusts has become popular as a vehicle for business. Setting up a Trust is a simple matter, requiring the compilation of a Trust Deed and submitting it to the relevant Master’s office, together with all of the required documentation.

Desired Module Outcome


Paralegals should be able to draw Trust Deeds and compile and collate all documentation necessary for submission to the Master’s office, and further be able to liaise with the Master until the Trust is registered. Should it be so required, paralegals may be able to give further input as to the running of the trust in terms of opening bank accounts and notifying trustees of meetings. In the case of Offshore Trusts, the paralegal should be able to communicate meaningfully with any offshore agent as to registration and maintenance of the trust.

Conveyancing

This is a vast field and requires an extensive skill set which covers a range of processes and procedures ranging from drafting new title deeds to ensuring that all funds are in place before registration of a sale of land. Given the fact that the average cost of a property in these times exceeds a million rand, the need for flawless precision is paramount. Paralegals are provided with the basics, including the drafting of title deeds and bonds. They are further familiarized with the basic forms and processes necessary for the lodgement of documents in the deeds office, such as rates clearance, electrical compliance certificates, levy clearance certificates, transfer duty and the collection of occupational rent pending transfer. They are introduced to the notion of a simultaneous transaction. Given the complexity and magnitude of the field, it is essential that post module training and guidance occur in situ and it is further recommended that Paralegals be introduced to the field piece-meal. The training of competent, all-round conveyancing paralegals able to work unsupervised takes months. Initially, in any given workplace, tasks should be confined to one activity to be completed under supervision (for example the drafting of new title deeds) after which the skill set can be expanded incrementally to include the other aspects of conveyancing, until a level of competence is reached which encompasses all aspects of the deeds office, such as notarial transactions, mortgage bonds, cancellation of existing mortgage bonds and upliftment of attachments. The field is vast and complex. The only way to master it is much as one might consume an elephant; one bite at a time.

Desired Module Outcome


Paralegals should be able to draft a new title deed and be fully familiar with the notion of a mortgage bond. In addition, Paralegals will be required to be familiar with all costs necessary for the passing of transfer. In addition, Paralegals will also be required to be able to draft a pro-forma account to be sent to the purchaser prior to the commencement of transfer procedures (assuming the purchaser is paying the costs) and be able to draft a final account to both the seller and purchaser on completion of the transfer.

Administration of Deceased Estates and Insolvent Estates and Liquidations

The administration of a deceased estate is a lengthy, complex process, but for the main part it is chiefly mechanical. Once the basics are mastered, one estate looks much like the next, from reporting an estate to finalizing the liquidation and distribution account. The same applies to an insolvent estate. Once an order of sequestration is granted, the liquidator’s task is simple; to locate the assets, to liquidate the estate, to distribute the approved dividends among creditors and to account to the Master. The chief barometer of competence in these matters is the time taken to complete the task with precision, so that once a matter is finalized there is no reason to re-open it as a consequence of some oversight or unfinished business. The Master’s Office is perhaps one of the most user-unfriendly bureaucracies in the country. Consequently, it is essential to develop relationships with the Master’s Office so that streamlining channels are created to cut down the time taken to finalize matters. Our module offers an applied, practical overview of the Administration of Deceased Estates Act 66 of 1965 and the Insolvency Act 24 of 1936, and all the pointers necessary for the speediest process by which Estates may be finalized.

Desired Module Outcome


Paralegals must have a rudimentary, working knowledge of the relevant legislation, be able to compile a liquidation and distribution account, and further be able to compile, complete and collate all necessary documentation for reporting to the Master in the case of Deceased Estates, and liaising with Trustees and Liquidators in the case of Insolvent Estates.

BBBEE Accreditation

Increasingly, companies have become completely reliant on BBBEE accreditation. Black empowerment has permeated every aspect of business. There is a BBBEE component to an application for a liquor license, for example, and for the tendering on all government contracts. Many companies have been on certain panels of preferred providers for years, and now find themselves in a position where, should they wish to remain on those panels, they need to better their current BBBEE status or formalize it. Paralegals are trained to draw all documentation necessary for the formalization of a Company’s BBBEE status.

Desired Module Outcome


Paralegals must be fully familiar with the BBBEE Act 53 of 2003 as Amended. They must further be familiar with all possible strategies necessary to enhance an operation’s BBBEE status, and be able to draw and lodge whatever documents are necessary in order to formalize that status. They must further be aware of the penalties and provisions relating to fronting.

Admission of Advocates of the High Court

One of the best kept secrets of the Legal Profession is the fact that on attainment of an LLB degree certificate, provided the criteria relating to character are met, the holder of an LLB degree qualifies for immediate admission as an Advocate of the High Court. This is the sole qualification needed, and once the applicant is admitted, he/she has full right of appearance in any court in the country, including the highest court in the land. Most graduates are under the misapprehension that in order to gain entry to the profession, they must either serve articles and pass the Side-Bar exam to become an attorney, or complete a pupillage and pass the Bar exam to become an advocate. The assumption is incorrect, and often leads to months, sometimes years of exasperating quests for impossibly rare positions as candidate attorneys or pupils. Not realizing that their law careers (and gainful employment) may commence immediately upon graduation, aspirant lawyers often defer commencement in the hope that these positions become available, and when they don’t become available, they abandon their ambitions out of a sense of despair. -This after 4 years of difficult study. It is true that the only route to the Bar is the completion of a pupillage and passing the Bar exams, and it is also true that in order to be admitted as an attorney one has to complete articles and pass the Side-Bar exam, however that these are the sole gates of entry into the legal profession is a myth. In effect one’s career as a practitioner may begin within months of graduation. All that this takes i s initiative and ‘thinking outside the box’. The SAPG Paralegals are trained to assist with the admission of all aspirant advocates in this regard, and to provide whatever follow up assistance and advice may be required in terms of setting up office and complying with all statutory requirements.

Desired Module Outcome


Paralegals must be familiar with the provisions of the Advocates Act. They must further be able to assist with the drafting of all affidavits necessary for the bringing of a formal application for admission, and must be able to advise on the requirements for the setting up of an Advocate’s practice in terms of marketing, premises, equipment and materials by way of forms and precedents and access to statutes and authorities. Subsequent to admission, should any further assistance be required with regard to the execution of a mandate in terms of a brief given, then the paralegal should be in a position to source information and assist with any research necessary for the effective completion of a task.

General Litigation

All aspects covered from Letter of Demand, to summons, to Execution.

Desired Module Outcome


Paralegals must be able to draft all pleadings in a typical action, including, particulars of claim, expert notices, and interlocutory applications. Paralegals must further be familiar with the provisions of the Prescription Act 68 of 1969.

Evictions

The process of evicting an unlawful occupant is exhausting, mostly because of the protections afforded all occupants of property by the Bill of Rights set out in the Constitution, and the PIE Act.

Desired Module Outcome


Paralegals should be able to recognise when an occupant is in unlawful occupation of a property, and be able to draft the necessary particulars of claim for eviction. They should further have a working knowledge of the Pie Act 19 of 1998.