Practices

Litigation is the term used to describe proceedings initiated between two opposing parties to enforce or defend a legal right. Litigation is typically settled by agreement between the parties, but may also be heard and decided by a jury or judge in court.

Contrary to popular belief, litigation is not simply another name for a lawsuit. Litigation includes any number of activities before, during, and after a lawsuit to enforce a legal right. In addition to the actual lawsuit, pre-suit negotiations, arbitrations, facilitations and appeals may also be part of the litigation process.

Labour law (also “labor law” or “employment law”) mediates the relationship between workers, employing entities, trade unions and the government. Collective labour law relates to the tripartite relationship between employee, employer and union. Individual labour law concerns employees’ rights at work and through the contract for work.

Employment standards are social norms (in some cases also technical standards) for the minimum socially acceptable conditions under which employees or contractors are allowed to work. Government agencies (such as the former US Employment Standards Administration) enforce labour law (legislative, regulatory, or judicial).

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) is a dispute resolution body established in terms of the Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995 (LRA). It is an independent body, does not belong to and is not controlled by any political party, trade union or business.

The new labour legislative environment anticipates, as well as encourages, a paradigm shift away from the old adversarial model which was characterised by high levels of conflict, union repression, discrimination, cheap labour and authoritarian managerial styles. Because of its relative informality and the greater variety of approaches and solutions which may be adopted, those groups who may be considered ill-served by the old legislature often regard the new dispensation as especially suitable for use. The premise being that it is a more co-operative model based on collective bargaining, greater participation, organisational rights, effective resolution of conflict and higher levels of co-operation resulting in greater flexibility and improved productivity outcomes.

Corporate Law (corporations law, company law) deals with the formation and operations of corporations and is related to commercial and contract law. A corporation is a legal entity created under the laws of the state it’s incorporated within. State laws, which vary from state to state, regulate the creation, organization and dissolution of their corporations. A corporation creates a legal or “artificial person” or entity that has standing to sue and be sued, enter into contracts, and perform other duties necessary to maintain a business, separate from its stockholders.

Corporations are taxable entities, which shields the individual owners or shareholders from personal liability for the liabilities and debts of the corporation, with some limited exceptions – such as unpaid taxes.

Written legal opinions delivered on behalf of clients of a law firm should represent the institutional conclusion of the law firm with regard to the matter covered, subject to any expressly stated reservations. The reputation of the law firm should support its opinions. As a result, the law firm should require that institutionalized procedures are followed when written opinions are issued.

A law firm should provide for the review of certain opinions prior to issuance. Many law firms establish opinion review committees to consult with attorneys on the form, substance and content of written opinions. Guidelines should be adopted that clearly define what type of opinions are subject to review procedures and what those procedures are.