Qualification and training levels of SA sheriffs need to be improved

The qualifications levels of South African sheriffs needs to be enhanced so that they are on par with international standards, says Deputy Justice Minister Andries Nel.

Speaking at the 21st Union Internationale des Huissiers de Justice (UIHJ)/International Union of Judicial Officers in Cape Town on Wednesday, Nel also called for better training levels.

“The qualification and training levels of sheriffs should be improved to ensure effective performance. The South African Board of Sheriffs has been actively involved in various training projects and this should be intensified.

“The qualification levels of South African sheriffs should be improved to meet with international standards and this is an area that could be looked at in the drive to harmonise the profession,” he said.

Training will feature prominently on the department’s agenda, given the large number of sheriffs expected to be appointed, and the department wanted to tap into the expertise and assistance of the UIHJ in this regard.

“The minister will soon consider the appointment of just over 230 sheriffs to vacant posts that will significantly change the demographic landscape of the sheriff’s profession in terms of race and gender,” Nel noted.

In the South African context, the financial challenges of setting up infrastructure of a sheriff’s office had been identified as a hurdle.

This challenge needed to be addressed with strategic planning projects to find acceptable and lasting solutions.

“We will follow with interest international trends and practices in this regard,” he added.

On the international front, Nel noted that cooperation was central to ensuring that the international legal system worked effectively.

“South Africa and its SADC and AU partners have negotiated and agreed upon various legal instruments to foster greater cooperation, with a view to encourage investment, economic development and legal certainty. Obtaining a judgment or court order will of course be of no value if it cannot be enforced in another country,” he said.

Nel highlighted the importance of establishing internationally agreed on procedures to enforce or realise lawful court orders.

“The work of the UIHJ in promoting the harmonisation of international treaties, have no doubt assisted in fostering in-depth discussions and on-going debates. The fact that the UIHJ already has members from 71 countries, of which 26 countries are from Africa, places you in a unique position to make a profound contribution,” he added.

Nel noted that the UIHJ was busy with a project named Cape Town Dakar and Tunisia resolution which aimed to promote the establishment and harmonising of statutes regulating sheriffs as well as providing assistance in training projects in countries such as Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

“This is encouraged and you are invited to make more information available to the South African Board for Sheriffs and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development with a view to establish how best we  could be of assistance,” he said.

Report by BuaNews

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