Registering your PVT contract can be a nightmare for some. I have heard of CA’s that submitted their contracts 2 or 3 times before the LPC finally approved and registered it. This can be a very frustrating situation.
It takes about 2 – 4 weeks from submitting the documents before you receive confirmation that its been registered or that there are issues.
Let’s Put it in perspective
You start working on 15 January and submit your documents on the 30th, you only get feedback at around 28 February. Now you get the feedback and the LPC has some issue with your application. You will need to fix the issue and re-submit the application. This might take you a week to fix before you can resubmit. You resubmit the application on the 7th of March. You only receive the approval letter at the end of March. So it took you two months to register your contract, and you will feel as if you lost 2 months. And that’s only if your contract was rejected once.
The longer it takes for your contract to register the longer you have to work as a CA. As your clerkship only starts ticking down after registration. Everyone wants their contract to be registered quickly and without any hassle. Taking a week longer and making sure everything is correct the first time around will save you from lots of stress and frustration and will save you time.
The most common reason why the LPC asks you to re-submit your application is because some of the requirements are not attached or the documents are not filled in correctly.
So the question now is what to do?
Get the documents
Before you can do anything you need to download the correct documents to fill in. On the LPC website you will get 3 documents that you can download. These are the documents you need to register your contract. Click here to download the documents.
The documents you need:
- The contract (Form 1) – This is the actual contract that will be concluded between you and your principal. The contract sets out what your and the principals obligations are towards one another.
- The registration and screening (Form 2) – The document is used by the council to screen prospective CA’s to make sure that they meet the requirements for registration. Both you and your principal sign this document.
- A Requirements breakdown (Form 3) – This is a information leaflet, showing what documents are needed to register the contract. This will be your checklist to make sure you have all the documents requested by the council.
They LPC does not set out in which order the documents needs to be in. You can put them in any order you wish, or you can follow how they state the requirements on the form. When I submitted my contract I placed them in this order:
a written request by the principal that the candidate attorney may appear on his/her behalf in Court, for the issuing of a certificate authorizing the candidate to so appear;
This is a letter where your principal requests the council to issue you with a certificate of appearance. Without the certificate you won’t be able to appear in any court.
The letter will be addressed to the LPC council and signed by your principal. It will be on the company’s letterhead and set out exactly what you request from the council.
I put the letter first as I used in two ways. I used it as a cover letter and requested the certificate of appearance.
the original practical vocational training contract, signed and witnessed and two copies thereof;
As we said earlier this is the contract between you and your principal. Some CA’s do type it over to make it look better but this is not necessary.
This will be the second document of the application.
The council request 2 copies of the contract – What they actually want is 2 copies of the application.
a certified copy of his/her birth certificate or identity document;
Any attorney in your firm can certify your copy as a true copy. There is no need that it has to be certified by another attorney outside of your firm.
proof that the candidate attorney has satisfied all the requirements of the LLB degree, obtained at a South African University, or a law degree obtained at a foreign University and certification by SAQA that the degree is equivalent to the LLB degree;
You should attach a colour copy of your LLB Degree which was certified. If you’ve completed your studies but did not receive your degree yet, ask the University for a letter confirming that you have completed your degree and attach the letter instead of the degree.
registration application form, completed and signed by the candidate attorney and the principal;
The application form refers to form 2 we spoke about earlier. This is the form that both you and your principal sign and where you ask the council to register the contract. Remember to double check that you and your principal initialed each page.
payment in the amount of R345 in respect of the registration fee. Proof of payment must be submitted with your documents
Make an A4 copy of your proof of payment if you paid it yourself. If your firm will make this payment ask the Bookkeeper for a copy of the proof of payment. It does not have to be certified.
proof to the satisfaction of the Council that he/she is a fit and proper person to serve as a candidate attorney under a practical vocational training contract (two written character references, not older than six months, by persons in a position of authority);
This is where it gets a bit tricky. You are requested to attach two character references from persons in authority. The person that gives you a letter must be in a position of authority. This can be a supervisor, a manager, or the owner of a company. They do not have to work in the legal field, the letter must just confirm that you are “Fit and Proper”.
Try to avoid getting a reference letter from your own firm, the council has had issues with such reference letters as they feel it does not speak to your true character.
If you have been working for a while the chances are good that you’ve worked with some other attorneys. Ask them if they are willing to write you a reference letter. You may also ask an advocate with who you have a good relationship with. Try to ask someone that you know will first of all give a good reference and second that you wont wait weeks for the letter.
When you haven’t worked in the legal field yet the problem usually comes in that you think you don’t have references. You can ask any of your previous employers for letters, again the letter should say something that you are “Fit and Proper”. Being a hard or good worker doesn’t necessarily mean your “Fit and Proper”.
a certified copy of the report / certificate confirming completion of the programme of structured course work of at least 400 national hours over a period of not more than six months (if applicable)
This is only applicable if you did the 6 month PLT course. You get a certificate that proofs you attended the classes and that you completed the course.
if the candidate attorney has a criminal conviction, an affidavit must be submitted setting out the details and sentence (notwithstanding an expungement/pardon/indemnity given). A copy of the Court record is also required;
You must disclose all your previous convictions to the council. The council will investigate every application and if you did not disclose this information your contract will not be registered. This speaks to the “Fit and Proper” requirement.
Although we all feel that traffic violations are not an actual criminal record you must include them. Even if you were not found guilty or the charges were dropped, you must include all the information.
If there are pending criminal charges or disciplinary inquiries against the pupil, an affidavit must be submitted setting out the details.
If there are any criminal charges against you, you have to disclose this to the council. Even if you think that you will not be convicted. If you are unsure of having criminal charges (I know this sounds funny, but people do forget these things) request a Police Clearance Certificate from the SAPS website.
Read each document carefully and answer the questions completely. For example do not answer N/A where they ask if you have a criminal record. There is a big difference between NO/NONE and Not applicable. I know of at least 4 candidates that needed to resubmit their contracts because of this simple error.
When talking to anyone from the council always be polite, do not get angry or rude if you do not hear from them quickly enough.
You have all the documents, and in the correct order. Now you have to submit the application for approval but your unsure how?
Take your complete application and make 3 copies. Make sure to mark the original that the council and you know which is which. Take the original and 2 copies and place them in an envelope. The extra copy will be for your own safe keeping.
When you submit the envelope to the council ask the person accepting it to stamp your own copy as proof that you did submit your application on that date.
You will have to wait between 2 to 4 weeks for any feedback from the council. Do not hassle the council every second day on how far the application is. There is a process that they follow and it may take some time. If after 4weeks you have heard nothing, then you can visit their office and ask about the progress. There is nothing wrong with you calling their office to follow up.
The golden rule is always be Positive and friendly. Remember in a nutshell you need something from the council, and being rude are disrespectful will not get you closer to what you need or want. Your rudeness can cost you your registration…
Tell us about your experience of registering your PVT contract in the comment box…