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Treated with disdain: Law Society stands with “committed” lawyers queuing to settle RAF cases

Written by Jonisayi Maromo | Published on 21 June 2023

File Picture: Jacques Naude / African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria – The Law Society of South Africa has expressed concern over the treatment of throngs of legal practitioners who queued at Sammy Marks Square in the Pretoria CBD in a bid to take up the offer from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) to negotiate block settlements for their clients who are accident victims.

The RAF had sent a notice to legal practitioners indicating the dates and venues for block settlements. However, these negotiations would be on a “first come, first served” basis.

Legal practitioners queued up since noon on Sunday, 18 June in order to be first in line on Monday.

“On 19 June, the RAF offices remained closed and legal practitioners were informed that the offices will open on Tuesday, 20 June. Police were called in when legal practitioners refused to leave without being serviced,” according to president of the Law Society of South Africa, Eunice Masipa.“The situation means that access to justice for accident victims is delayed as the victims wait for their compensation. In the past the RAF has facilitated block settlements, where legal practitioners were able take their files and negotiate a settlement.”In previous instances, Masipa said these processes were done in a structured manner, with meetings scheduled for a specific date and time.

“The RAF has a statutory duty to settle claims and, while the Law Society of South Africa appreciates the efforts of the RAF for starting the block settlement process, this should be done in a manner that is fair and does not impede on access to justice or leave accident victims without recourse,” said Masipa.

“The treatment of practitioners with disdain is uncalled for.”

The Law Society of South Africa has saluted the legal practitioners who went all out to get service for their clients.

“The queuing of legal practitioners, overnight, at Sammy Marks Square further shows the commitment of legal practitioners to serve their clients and ensure that accident victims receive their compensation,” said Masipa.

Pretoria News reported that chaos erupted as the hundreds of attorneys queued at Sammy Marks Square in the Pretoria CBD, to take up the offer from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) to negotiate block settlements.

Several attorneys who did not want to be identified for fear of victimisation, told the Pretoria News that they had been queuing at the venue since noon on Sunday.

“We did this to ensure a place in the queue as the RAF said it will be on a first come, first serve basis,” one of the attorneys said. According to her, she and her colleagues took turns to stand in the queue.

To make matters worse, nothing came of their efforts, as the office set up by the RAF on the first floor of the Sammy Marks Convention Centre failed to open on Monday.

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