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Right of Appearance

The lawyer who handles his own case has a fool for a client.

This is an old saying which is familiar to most in the legal profession, and there is a lot of rationale in the anecdote. To attend to the necessary preparatory work in a court case, and particularly to present the case in court, requires objectivity. Court cases are, mostly, about the facts (and, then, applying the law to the facts) and there is no room for emotion. Often, emotions can cloud our perspective on what is relevant and what is not.

So, whilst every person has the right to present his own case, our legal system mostly works on the basis of attorneys and advocates as legal representatives. They are trained to handle court cases; and, so, to represent you and act in your best interests.

To present someone else’s case in the High Court requires that you have the ‘right to appear’. Advocates automatically have the right to appear in any court. However, attorneys must first be certified by the Registrar of the High Court, and this is what the Right of Appearance in Courts Act 19951 is all about.

An attorney commits a criminal offence if, at a time when he does not have the right to appear in the High Court, he:

  1. As amended; the latest amendment was effected by Act 22 of 2005. 

  2. Section 6(1) read with section 6(2).