South Africa: ICJ makes submissions to the Constitutional Court on the human rights compatibility of prohibiting non-citizen lawyers from practising in South Africa

Today, the ICJ will present oral arguments in a constitutional challenge to a provision of the Legal Practice Act before the Constitutional Court. The provision prohibits otherwise qualified lawyers from practising law in South Africa merely because they are not South African citizens or permanent residents.

Today the International Commission of Jurists will be appearing as an amicus curiae in the matter of Relebohile Cecilia Rafoneke v Minister of Justice and Correctional Services in the Constitutional Court of South Africa. The case concerns a constitutional challenge to section 24(2)(b) of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (“LPA”), which was partially successful in the Free State High Court.

The individuals bringing the case are Lesotho nationals who are lawfully residing in South Africa and who, other than lacking South African permanent residence, are appropriately qualified to practise as lawyers in South Africa. However, they are specifically prohibited from doing so by section 24(2)(b) of the LPA. The Constitutional Court will also hear an application for a separate legal challenge to section 24(2)(b) brought by the Asylum Seeker, Refugee & Migrant Coalition regarding Zimbabwean citizens in a similar position, which the Court has been asked to be hear alongside Rafoneke.

Represented by Lawyers for Human Rights, the ICJ has already filed its written arguments before the Court.

The ICJ’s oral arguments will be presented to the Constitutional Court by Advocate Thabang Pooe. A live stream of the proceedings will be available here.

Read the ICJ’s heads of arguments, here.

For more information about the case, click here.


Timothy Fish Hodgson, Legal Adviser on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, e:, c: +27828719905

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh,  Director of the Africa Programme at the International Commission of Jurists, e:

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