ConCourt gives Varsity College qualifications a thumbs up

The Constitutional Court has ruled that an LL.B graduate from an Independent Institute of Education (IIE) institution is eligible for admission and enrolment as a legal practitioner in terms of the Legal Practice Act.

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The IIE, which owns higher education institutions such as Varsity College, Rosebank College, and Vega School, had applied to the court for law degrees conferred by its colleges to be declared as compliant with the requirements for one to become a lawyer in South Africa.

This is because the KwaZulu Natal Law Society was interpreting the use of the word ‘university’ in the Legal Practice Act which governs the admission of legal professionals to exclude students who obtained their LLB degrees through private higher learning institutions such as Varsity College.

The main judgment was penned by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng with six other justices in agreement while a minority judgment which agreed with the main one was written by Justice Theron with Justice Froneman concurring.

Wider implications of the judgment are that private higher learning institutions can produce lawyers, doctors, engineers, and other professionals without a requirement that those people obtain their qualifications from public higher learning institutions. Private higher learning institutions would need to be accredited in order to provide these qualifications as is currently the case.