As Magistrates Matter is not able to provide legal advice, we would like to refer you to the relevant organisations for assistance.
The following resources are available on this page:
- How to lodge a complaint against a person in legal services:
- Against a service point/court/Masters office:
- Against a lawyer/attorney
- Against a prosecutor through the NPA
- Against a member of the South African Police Services
- Against a Sheriff
- Against a Magistrate
- Against a High Court Judge
- Legal Resources – contact numbers
- Other resources – contact numbers
- Useful websites
How to lodge a complaint against a person in legal services:
There are different procedures to be followed depending on the nature of the complaint. Follow the link below each listing for the appropriate procedure:
Against a service point/court/Masters office:
Against a lawyer/attorney, through the relevant law society
– see full process below or visit
Against a prosecutor through the NPA
Hotline: 0800 21 25 80
This hotline is independently monitored. Available 24/7. Anonymous calls are accepted
Against a member of the South African Police Services
Independent Police Investigative Directorate
012 399 0000
Please note: this service conducts independent and impartial investigations of identified criminal offenses allegedly committed by members of the SAPS and is not for general complaints.
Against a Sheriff
Against a High Court Judge
How to: Lodge a complaint with the Magistrates Commission
Any conduct by a magistrate that is alleged to be improper may be reported to the Judicial Head of the Court wherein the magistrate concerned presides.
A complaint against a magistrate must be reported by means of a written declaration under oath or affirmation, specifying –
- the nature of the matter;
- the grounds on which an investigation is viewed necessary;
- the names of the magistrate, other persons involved, and of any witnesses;
- the date and time of the incident(s), and
- all other relevant information known to the complainant.
The Magistrate’s Commission is not empowered to interfere with judicial decisions made by judicial officers and is in terms of Section 165(3) of the Constitution prohibited from interfering with the functioning of the Courts. In so far as the particular magistrate who acted within his/her judicial capacity, his/her judgments can only be contested within the framework of the court system.
If you are of the view that the magistrate concerned has misdirected him/herself in the process, the appropriate course would be to take the matter on Review or Appeal to the relevant High Court. In this regard, it is suggested that you approach an attorney of your choice who, with all the facts at his disposal, will be in the best position to advise and/or assist you where possible.
If you cannot afford the services of an attorney, you are at liberty to approach the Legal Aid Officer at your nearest Magistrate’s Court.
Should you be of the view that the Magistrate is biased and/or that you will not have a fair trial you are at liberty to request the presiding officer at the next court proceedings to recuse herself.
*Complaints on the conduct of the Prosecutors should be lodged with the Chief Prosecutor for the area of the respective court.
*Complaints on the conduct of the Clerks/Administration should be lodged with the Court Manager at that office for his/her attention.
*Complaints on the conduct of the Court Manager should be lodged with the Area Court Manager or Director, Court Operations for his/her attention.
You can obtain the details of the relevant officials at the respective court.
If the complainant is of the view that his/her concerns have not been properly or adequately addressed by the Judicial Head of Court, the complainant may direct his/her complaint to:
Secretary of the Magistrates Commission
Mr Mahomed Dawood
Tel: +27 12 325 3951
Fax: +27 12 325 3957/ +27 12 326 0094
How to lodge a complaint against a LAWYER:
“The law societies are committed to protecting the public against unprofessional and irresponsible conduct by attorneys and are prepared to investigate complaints which are submitted to them in good faith and which fall within their jurisdiction.”
Attorneys fall under the regulatory jurisdiction of the Legal Practice Council.
Complaints must be lodged with the relevant office of the Legal Practice Council.
How to file a complaint in your region:
Visit https://lpc.org.za/members-of-the-public/ for details of how to file a complaint in your region
Members of the public can lodge complaints against any law professional through a legal hotline called the “Trustline” initiative which is run by the Law Society of South Africa and the Attorneys Fidelity Fund.
You can also visit the Law Society of South Africa’s website to complain at: http://www.lssa.org.za/public/complaining-about-an-attorney
REGIONAL COMPLAINTS AGAINST LAWYERS:
Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West
Law Society of the Northern Provinces
021 443 6700
021 443 6700
Legal Resources: Useful numbers
* Legal Aid Advice Line
0860 LEGAL 8 (0860 534 258)
* Legal Aid Ethics Hotline
0800 153 728
Please call me number 079 835 7179
* Stellenbosch University Law Clinic
+27 21 808 3600
Crozierstraat 18-24 Stellenbosch, Cape Town, 7600
Pro bono (free) legal services by attorneys
Pro bono is administered by the Legal Practice Council where attorneys are registered.
To qualify for free legal assistance, a person must comply with a ‘means test’ (a maximum monthly or no income) and have a legal problem with merit. You will be referred to an attorney by the Legal Practice Council who will assist you free of charge (pro bono). If a referral is made to a pro bono attorney, the client is responsible only for the cost of disbursements (actual expenses), such as Sheriffs’ fees, and the attorney will not charge any fees for the work and legal services provided.
Visit https://lpc.org.za/members-of-the-public/ for pro-bono assistance in your region
* The National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa
Twitter: @NPA_Prosecutes & @MissingPersonsZA for the NPA’s Missing Persons Task Team
* Chief Prosecutors | All contact numbers pdf
Other Useful Numbers:
* Women Abuse Helpline: 0800 150 150
* Childline: 0800 055 555
* SAPS Crime Stop: 0860 10111
* SMS Crime Line: 32211
* Independent Police Investigative Directorate: 012 399 0000
* GBVF-related service complaints (SAPS): 0800 333 177 | firstname.lastname@example.org
* National AIDS Helpline: 0800 012 322
* National Human Trafficking Helpline: 0800 222 777
* Suicide Helpline: 0800 567 567
* South African Human Rights Commission: +27 11 877 3600 | www.sahrc.org.za
*Commission for Gender Equality: 0800 007 709 | +27 11 403 7182 | www.cge.org.za
* Ndifunda Ukwazi
Deals with inequality of service delivery in informal settlements in Cape Town
+27 21 012 5094 | www.nu.org.za | email@example.com
* Black Sash: +27 72 66 33 739 | www.blacksash.org.za |firstname.lastname@example.org
- Justice Department: https://www.justice.gov.za/faq/faq-lawyer.html
- Legal Practice council: https://lpc.org.za/members-of-the-public/
- How to complain: https://www.gov.za/faq/justice-and-crime-prevention/how-do-i-lodge-complaint-against-person-legal-services
How to withdraw a complaint from the Magistrates Commission:
Write to the Secretary of the Magistrates Commission and state the full reasons for withdrawal of your complaint. But keep in mind, the Magistrates Commission has a responsibility to investigate any allegation, so they may refuse to withdraw