In response to a report that lawyers' fees are too high for ordinary South Africans to afford, Legal & Tax CEO Benjy Porter sent Fin24 the following response:
South African legal insurance companies are indeed putting legal aid within reach for millions of ordinary South Africans who would otherwise not be able to afford legal services and advice.
According to the above-mentioned article, Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery said it would cost a domestic worker two days' salary to see a lawyer for 15 minutes.
“There is no doubt that lawyers’ fees are so high that they are only within reach for the rich. Even basic legal services may cost upwards of R1 000 an hour, in a country where the average wages is somewhere around R3 000 a month. Very few people in South Africa can afford to hire an attorney from their savings or wages when they need one.”
Porter says that the result is that many ordinary South Africans are unable to fight for their legal rights in civil and criminal matters. For example, exploitation of workers is depressingly common because many people have no one to turn to for advice about labour law when they have a dispute with their employers.
In other cases, people are unable to get good legal advice when negotiating divorce settlements and maintenance. Unscrupulous creditors also prey on those who don’t have access to someone who can inform them of their legal rights, says Porter.
“We have a legal system built on many progressive ideas about equality before the law and protecting the disempowered,” says Porter. “But many people are unable to access their rights under the law because they don’t know the law or have legal advisors they can speak to. Often, all they need is someone to tell them what the law says to save themselves a lot of trouble and money.”
This is where legal insurance companies such as Legal & Tax are playing a valuable role for the consumer. They help ordinary people navigate the complexities of South Africa's legal environment and protect clients' rights by providing affordable access to professional legal and tax services.
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