Varsity College has approached the courts to have wording in the Attorneys Act and the Legal Practice Act declared unconstitutional, says a report in The Mercury. This follows an impasse with the KZN Law Society over the body’s refusal to have the institution’s LLB graduates admitted for articles. The institution has filed a Rule 16A notice with the High Court asking that it declare the use of the word ‘university’ in both Acts unconstitutional.

Felicity Coughlan, director of the Independent Institute of Education (IIE), said the private institution is willing to go to the Constitutional Court if need be. Varsity College is a brand of the IIE. The latest action follows an application the institution lodged at the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) to set aside a decision by the KZN Law Society not to recognise Varsity College’s LLB degree as sufficient for entry into the attorneys’ profession.

The society’s decision was based on its interpretation of the two Acts which state that a prospective candidate applying to serve articles or to be admitted as an attorney must have satisfied all the requirements for an LLB degree from ‘any university in the Republic’.

The word ‘university’ in both Acts is the main bone of contention as Varsity College is not designated as a university.

The IIE believes such exclusions violate the rights of the institution and its students.

In the Pietermaritzburg court matter, Judge Piet Koen observed that Varsity College had presented a ‘persuasive case for the words of ‘any university in the Republic’ to be struck and or set aside as unconstitutional. Koen adjourned the application to allow the IIE to supplement its papers, notes the report.

Coughlan said the matter has been set down for hearing on 30 October.

Full report in The Mercury (subscription needed)