At a recent conference held by the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) in Pretoria, many issues facing the legal industry and changes to the governing of legal professionals were addressed.
Along with the election of a new President, Vice-President and Acting Vice-President of the Law Society; it was decided that attorneys and advocates would no longer be regulated by Statutory Provincial Law Societies and Bar Associations. Instead, these legal practitioners would adhere to a single regulatory body known as the Legal Practice Council (under the new Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014).
In these discussions, the high failure rates in the conveyancing examinations were also addressed, explaining why these statistics are to be expected.
High Failure Rate in Conveyancing Exams
According to a press release published by the LSSA, they considered conveyancing to be a specialised post-admission field, which needed to adhere to a strict and high standard.
“In order to protect our unique, “world-renowned” cadastral system (register containing information on the value, extent and ownership of land) and the public, prospective conveyancers have to be well trained and prepared.”
The Cadastral System, dates back many centuries, with evidence of this surveying system found in Ancient Egyptian scripts. In more modern times, the Land Survey Act of 1927 firmly placed cadastral surveying in South Africa on the map. Becoming one of the most reliable and advanced systems of determining property boundaries and the rights affecting those properties in the world.
Sharing this sentiment is Attorney, Conveyancer & Notary Public for AMC Hunter INC, Saijal Pale. Having been admitted as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa in 2016, a Conveyancer in 2017, and a Notary Public in 2018; Pale achieved the highest mark in KwaZulu-Natal for the 2018 Notarial examinations.
As such, Pale has a uniquely qualified outlook on the high standard and low pass rate associated with these exams.
“The reason why these exams are so difficult is that they have to maintain a very high standard in conveyancing. Our system is incredibly complex, one of the most complex in the world – this creates the need for excellence.” Crediting her success to dedication, hard work and constant study, she notes that working in a conveyancing firm hugely helped as she gained valuable practical experience which supported her studies.
Becoming A Conveyancer
According to the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society, “A conveyancer is admitted as such by the High Court after having completed a special qualifying examination. In addition, only a person who has been admitted by the High Court as an Attorney may practice as a conveyancer.
To be admitted, the person has to complete the required academic studies (usually four or more years for the necessary law degree), then a period of “articles” or work in a law office for the necessary experience and then an extensive practical examination.
If the qualified attorney wishes to practice in the highly technical branch of the law dealing with fixed property, he or she has to do an intensive study of a large number of Acts of Parliament, regulations, High Court decisions and decisions by Registrars of Deeds relating to fixed property. Then he or she has to pass a conveyancing examination. Only after passing this examination will the High Court allow the attorney to practice as a conveyancer.“
Offering some advice to those taking the exams, Pale notes, “They just need to practice, practice, practice. Make use of past exam papers and try to find a position in a conveyancing department; it is highly recommended.”
The LSSA has agreed to review the conveyancing examinations, however, they still insist that it is of the utmost importance that the existing high standard in the field of conveyancing should be maintained.