Webber Wentzel excelled at the 2015 Pro Bono Awards. This annual event commenced in 2014 and celebrates the valuable role played by legal practitioners in providing pro bono legal services for the promotion of South African constitutional principles.
The event was hosted by ProBono.Org, a dynamic NGO which works with South Africa’s private legal fraternity to provide access to justice for disadvantaged people who are unable to pay for private legal representation. This year Constitution Hill served as the venue for the award ceremony.
Webber Wentzel scooped three of the seven prestigious awards:
- The most impactful case, project or initiative undertaken by a private law firm in 2014 was awarded to senior associate, Odette Geldenhuys, for the matter relating to emolument attachment orders. This ground-breaking case focussed on the processes employed by micro-lenders to secure the repayment of unsecured loans, and the abuse of such orders by micro-lenders which left thousands of poor South Africans struggling to survive as large portions of their salaries were deducted as a result of the emolument orders. Following a judgment by the Western Cape High Court, the matter will be heard by the Constitutional Court to confirm an order of the High Court striking down elements of the laws on emolument orders on grounds of unconstitutionality and that parliament rewrite these elements of the law within 18 months. This will help to better protect the poor from extractive financial practices which exploit the poor’s lack of financial literacy.
- The award for most dedicated and committed individual attorney in a law firm was awarded to Moray Hathorn, partner at Webber Wentzel, who has dedicated 16 years to pro bono work. Hathorn was appointed to start the first Pro Bono Practice in a private law firm in South Africa and during 2014 he worked 1188.8 pro bono hours. Hathorn heads Webber Wentzel’s Pro bono Practice.
- The award for most dedicated student at a law clinic was awarded to Danelle Prinsloo, a first-year candidate attorney at the firm, who worked at Pretoria University’s Law Clinic.
Each of the awards was made on the strength of the nominations received for a particular category.
Established in March 2003, Webber Wentzel’s Pro Bono Practice provides free legal services to various organisations and communities. “We take pride in providing our clients and the public with the highest level of legal expertise which is underpinned with social sensitivity and responsibility. We are committed to equal justice for all members of South Africa’s society by providing these essential legal services to individuals and communities on issues such as enterprise development, land reform, housing, education, healthcare, children’s rights, gender equality and service provision,” says Hathorn. “It is an absolute honour to be recognised for the pro bono work which we do. We are exceedingly proud to be acknowledged as a responsible citizen who can be a voice for those wh