Constitutional and Legislative Legal Services (Legal Services)

Introduction

Legal Services consists of a team of legal advisors who render expert legal advice to the KZN Legislature.

The core functions of the unit are: • To provide legal advice and support services to the Office of the Speaker, the Office of the Secretary, all office bearers, all committees of the Legislature (including management, portfolio and standing committees) and other units within the Legislature; and • To render legislative drafting services.

The purpose of the unit is to support and enable the Legislature and its components to comply with their constitutional and other legal obligations, more particularly to maintain oversight of the exercise of provincial executive authority and provincial organs of state, to hold provincial executive organs of state accountable to it and to exercise its legislative authority (law-making).

In addition, the Legislature – as an organ of state – must ensure compliance with all relevant legislation and the law in general in its day-to-day operations. The Legal Services Unit renders assistance and legal advice in this regard, which includes advice on compliance with the regulatory statutory framework and the drafting, vetting and interpretation of contracts and policies. The unit assists in the management and conducting of litigation by and against the Legislature. The unit also assists the Legislature, where required, in fulfilling its duties under the Public Access to Information Act (Paia); and the Secretary in fulfilling his/her role as the information officer in terms of the Act.

The proceedings and procedures of the Legislature are determined by a set of Standing Rules. The unit assists the Management Committee on Rules in the drafting of the Standing Rules and also provides advice to the Speaker and various office bearers, including chairpersons of committees, committees, Members and staff on the interpretation and implementation of the Standing Rules. This includes advice to the Speaker on making rulings in the House and advice to chairpersons of committees on processes to be followed during committee meetings.

The unit assists the Chief Whip of the Legislature in drafting motions or resolutions for tabling in and adoption by the House. Since the programme of the Legislature and the business of the House on the Order Paper are determined by the Management Committee on Programming and the Whips’ Forum, respectively, the unit also assists with procedural and legal advice in that regard.

Policies concerning Members’ benefits, facilities or support are also developed and considered by the Whips’ Forum and the Legislature Executive Committee (Lexco) and this may require legal advice and assistance from time to time.

The Committee on Oversight (Stacov) maintains oversight of the financial management of the Legislature. Legal Services assists this committee in fulfilling its mandate and provides legal advice and support, where required.

In terms of the Standing Rules, Members of the Legislature are required to annually make disclosure of their registrable interests in a format approved by the Standing Committee on Discipline. The Secretary, who is also the Registrar of Members’ Interests, must ensure compliance. Legal Services assists the Secretary in his/her capacity as Registrar.

The Standing Committee on Discipline, chaired by the Deputy Speaker, is responsible for the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Members, to investigate matters of a disciplinary nature against Members and to make findings and recommendations on disciplinary action to be taken. Legal Services assists the committee in conducting its work in this regard.

In terms of the Constitution of the RSA, the Legislature is required to facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other processes. Typically this takes the form of public educational workshops or briefings and public hearings to obtain public submissions and input on Bills being processed by the Legislature. The unit assists with these activities and will analyse and consolidate public submissions for consideration by the relevant committee with a view to possibly amending Bills before it. Once a committee has agreed to amend a Bill, a legal advisor will draft the amendments, as well as the relevant committee report accompanying the Bill to be tabled in the House for debate. The legal advisor is also required to advise committees on the constitutionality and legality of legislative provisions in general, including proposed amendments.

In terms of the Standing Rules, a committee or a Member in his/her private capacity may also introduce a Bill in the House, and not only a member of the executive. Legal Services may be required to assist in the drafting of a committee or a private Members’ Bill.

With regard to law-making, the Legislature is not only vested with provincial legislative authority, but is also required to consider and vote on any national legislation affecting provinces or Bills amending the Constitution of the RSA, through the National Council of Provinces. The Legislature may propose amendments to such Bills by way of a negotiating mandate. A legal advisor will assist the relevant committee in processing such Bills and in the conferral of negotiating and final mandates, including the drafting of proposed amendments and in advising the committee in general on the legality of the legislative provisions and the proposed amendments. Ordinarily such Bills are also subject to a process of public hearings and the taking down and consideration of public submissions. A legal advisor will also assist the committee in this regard.

With regard to conducting oversight of the provincial executive authority, this is carried out by portfolio committees and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa). Legal Services assists these committees in performing their functions in this regard and provides legal advice pertaining to matters arising from their deliberations.

Legal Services also assists in the drafting or vetting of committee reports and resolutions for tabling and debating in the House.

Finally, Legal Services assists in capacity building of Members and conducts training on the Standing Rules of the KZN Legislature and other relevant legislation or processes, where required.

Contact Information

Constitutional and Legislative Legal Services Unit
2nd Floor: Administrative Building
244 Langalibalele Street
3200 Pietermaritzburg

Acting Manager: Mr Raneer Sukraj
Email: sukrajr@kznlegislature.gov.za
Office: 033 3557716
Fax: 033 3557586
Mobile: 083 6278070

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