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Legal Practice Bill latest: Public hearings on 19 and 20 February 2013
LSSA - South Africa
Summary of LSSA submissions on Legal Practice Bill
The LSSA submissions open by welcoming developments in the Bill which were improvements of the previous version. The LSSA then goes on to stress the importance of the independence of the courts, the judiciary and the legal profession as entrenched in the Constitution. The LSSA notes:

‘Judicial independence is a requirement demanded by the Constitution in the public interest, since without that protection judges may not be, or be seen by the public to be, able to perform their duties without fear or favour. Although not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, the judiciary depends on an independent legal profession to enable it to perform its constitutional duty. An independent, effective and competent legal profession is fundamental to the upholding of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. Effective judicial process cannot be obtained from independent judges without independent lawyers.’

The LSSA highlights several provisions in the Bill which affect the independence of the legal profession. Firstly, it points out that there are differing views in the profession on the issue whether the Minister should have the right to appoint members of the Legal Practice Council (the Council). These range from the view that there should be no members of the LPC appointed by the Minister to ensure independence, to the view that the Minister should be entitled to appoint three members of the Council, as provided in the Bill introduced in Parliament.
Law Society of South Africa Submissions on the Legal Practice Bill

New environmental laws to clarify issues around coastal properties
iolProperty - South Africa
Draft changes to coastal legislation are in the pipeline that include new definitions for the legally crucial high water mark and for estuaries - those environmentally sensitive areas where rivers discharge into the sea.

The national Environment Department hopes that the proposed changes will resolve several legal and enforcement problems, including with the management of ocean-linked canals in waterfront and marina developments such as those at places like St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape.

Also, the amended legislation is aimed at resolving serious differences between the department and Transnet over the management of ports.

House price growth continues in early 2013
Absa - South Africa
Year-on-year growth in the average value of homes in the middle segment of the South African housing market continued in January 2013. The upward trend in year-on-year price growth occurred against the background of the base effect of slowing house price growth and even price deflation in some segments twelve months ago. On a monthly basis, price growth continued to slow down, which is expected to show up in a moderation in annual price growth during the course of the year. These trends are according to the Absa house price indices, which are based on applications for mortgage finance received and approved by the bank in respect of middle-segment small, medium-sized and large homes (see explanatory notes).

Middle-segment house price growth came to 9,1% year-on-year (y/y) in January this year, after rising by a revised 7,4% y/y in December. Real price growth of 1,7% y/y was recorded in the last month of 2012, after real price deflation was recorded for most of last year.

Nominal house price growth is expected to remain in single digits in 2013, based on current trends in and the outlook for key macroeconomic indicators, household finances and consumer confidence. Real price growth will remain under pressure in view of consumer price inflation forecast to average around 6% this year
ABSA House Price Index Jan 2013

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