Commercial law provides the legal basis for one of the most important institutions in organising and stimulating the economy, namely, corporate business entities. Companies, in various forms, are central to a country’s economy and its prosperity – for wealth creation and social renewal. There is a real and constant need to bring Commercial law in line with international trends and to reflect and accommodate the changing environment for business, both at a national level and globally. Furthermore, the growth of the small business sector creates a need for simpler and more accessible laws.
South Africa has had a dramatic and unique past in recent years. In 1994, South Africa had its first non-racial and democratic elections, which culminated in Nelson Mandela being sworn in as the country’s first democratically-elected President. The new South Africa has moved along a path of democracy, reconstruction, and development. South Africa is once again participating more fully in the international business world after a long enforced isolation. International businesses are returning to South Africa to re-establish old ties and forge new relationships. Concurrently, South African companies are venturing into the international marketplace. South Africa has seen first hand the importance of international trade as a tool for promoting social and economic development, creating job opportunities, increasing income, reducing poverty, and improving the living conditions of citizens. Given its status as Africa’s dominant economy, South Africa will remain an attractive opportunity for foreign investors, especially those investors wishing to break into the African market.
Since 2002 IRLI, in partnership with the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA), has provided substantive training in Commercial Law to lawyers from historically disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa. Intensive tuition is provided by experienced Irish and South African lawyers through lectures, workshops, seminars, video and role-play. At the end of the course, the participants take a written examination and those who pass receive a certificate. Three/four participants are then selected on merit to undertake commercial law training with a large commercial firm in Ireland.
From 2002- 2012 the course ran twice a year, moving throughout South Africa – Pretoria, Durban, East London and Cape Town. In 2012 LSSA and IRLI expanded the weeklong course into an intensive year-long Commercial Law Training Programme which involves distance learning, face-to-face tuition, mentoring and placement opportunities. To date the course has reached over 500 lawyers.
A delegation of Irish lawyers travels to Pretoria twice a year, usually in April and August, to provided a week long training in Commercial Law and Drafting respectively and are joined also by South Africa lawyers. These two workshops form part of the practical element of the year long programme including the distance learning course in Corporate Law undertaken through the University of South Africa
With little prominence given to commercial law during formal legal training in South Africa, and with little opportunity for lawyers from rural or disadvantaged backgrounds to subsequently break into the commercial law arena, participants have expressed sincere gratitude for the focus of this course on building confidence and knowledge. Participants have used the training as a springboard for expanding their practice or securing a better job. This has particular significance in isolated areas where lawyers can in turn use their knowledge to encourage greater contribution to the market economy and provide valuable legal assistance to local businesses.
Read more about this programme on the pages below:
- May 2015: Irish Ambassador to South Africa visits Commercial Law Training Programme in Pretoria
- September 2014: IRLI South Africa Programme 2014
- March 2014: Irish Firms Participate in Placement Programme in 2013
- May 2013: Commercial Law Programme 2013
- November 2012: Placements of Ntombi and Martin in Ireland
- August 2012: Commercial Law Programme 2012
- April 2011: Commercial Law Training Course April 2011
This project is funded by Irish Aid