(Im)mobility as Group Disadvantage: Are Vehicle Requirements in Candidate Attorney Recruitment Justifiable?

Author Davy Rammila

ISSN: 2413-9874
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, University of South Africa, LLB, LLM (Johannesburg), LLD Candidate (Johannesburg)
Source: Industrial Law Journal, Volume 44 Issue 2, 2023, p. 702 – 723


Nearly three decades since the fall of apartheid, South Africa, to a considerable extent, has not achieved the level of transformation desired in respect of the attorney’s profession. Efforts at encouraging or supporting diversity have not been helped by a recent trend which has transformed the entry requirements for the profession from those based on educational qualifications and equity to those based on [unequal] economic and social privilege. As the number of black graduates grew, recruiters increasingly required applicants for practical vocational training contracts to own, or at least have access to, motor vehicles as a minimum requirement for eligibility. This contribution evaluates the validity of these requirements within the existing employment law framework and establishes that socio-economic circumstances affecting ethnic majorities of South Africans operate against the imposition of such requirements. The contribution acknowledges the amended rules introduced by the Legal Practice Council in 2021 to address the issue. However, it argues that the enforcement mechanisms of the council have at times proven inadequate. It suggests that such shortcomings in enforcement emphasise the continued importance of labour law in resolving employment disputes within the profession. It concludes that vehicle requirements are incapable of justification under the available defence of the inherent requirement of the job in terms of the Employment Equity Act.