Impact litigation

Impact Litigation

Legal Aid South Africa tries to help as many people who can’t afford legal services as possible. From time to time, we come across opportunities to take on legal work that has the potential to change the lives of a whole community rather than just the person that we provide the legal assistance to.

For example, we consider cases that could create new legal precedent that may be used for similar litigation into the future. We call this our Impact Litigation programme and it covers:

  • Class action lawsuits; or
  • The litigation of a small number of matters that resolve a large number of disputes and help broader communities.

Legal Aid South Africa not only considers cases for Impact Litigation that are brought to us, but we may also propose cases for consideration as well.


  • Silicosis Class Action – Legal Aid SA, has through its Co-operation Agreement with the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), funded the Silicosis Class Action. The LRC, assisted by Leigh Day and Associates of the United Kingdom, is representing a group of ex-gold-miners who were employed at the President Steyn Gold Mine situated in the Free State. These ex-gold-miners who currently reside in Lesotho, the Free State and the Eastern Cape have contracted Silicosis, which is a lung disease that proves untreatable once contracted, and predisposes the sufferer to tuberculosis infection. More about this case.
  • Mooketsi Hawkers – Because of this case similar communities can use this case as a model on how the state, poor communities and the private sector can work together to create opportunities for vulnerable communities, especially women, to acquire a source of income. It can also be used as a model on how to formalise informal trading, and as a result, give more security to the traders and give women the opportunity to spend time with their families at night knowing their goods are safe.
  • Masiya v DPP, Pretoria and Another 2007 – Because of this case, the Constitutional Court confirmed a broader and more inclusive definition of rape. This has allowed for more appropriate sentencing in similar cases.

This is an on-going call for proposals from practitioners in private practice, nongovernmental organisations (ngo’s) and /or law clinics, and community based organisations for legal aid assistance in furthering the rights of indigent persons and vulnerable groups such as women and children.

Legal Aid South Africa provides legal services and legal representation in the execution of its statutory mandate as set out in the Legal Aid Act 22 of 1969 (the Act). Legal Aid South Africa has in terms of its Impact Service Policy, diversified its areas of funding to extend its services to as many indigent persons it can reach. From time to time matters arise in which the opportunity exists for Legal Aid South Africa to undertake or fund litigation or other legal work which has the potential to positively affect the lives of a far larger number of indigent persons than the person or persons to whom legal services are rendered individually. The matters dealt with under the Impact Litigation Services Policy will include matters which have the potential to establish:-

  • a legal precedent, jurisprudence or clarify aspects that will be followed in dealing with indigent persons and vulnerable groups;
  • class actions that have the potential to resolve a large number of disputes or potential disputes and obtain wider objectives;
  • matters that protect and promote the right of access to socio-economic rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Services providers are invited to submit written proposals for the rendering of impact legal services together with a merit report on the prospects of success in the format outlined in section of the Legal Aid Guide. All such proposals must be forwarded to the Impact Litigation Unit on 5th Floor, Legal Aid House, 29 De Beer Street, Braamfontein, Tel 011 877 2000 or Fax 011 877 2222, E-mail

Legal Aid South Africa prefers proposals that are aligned with our strategic priorities, which we publish annually. We will also consider other proposals that improve the lives of the poor.

Every proposal must include a merit report, as set out in paragraphs 7.3.2 and 11.3 of the 2009 Legal Aid Guide. A proposal for the rendering of Impact legal services must be in writing and set out the following:

  • The nature and extent of the proposed legal services as well as evidence that the services offered will benefit a substantial number of indigent people.
  • Sufficient facts, expert opinion (where appropriate) and legal submissions to enable an assessment of whether the proposed litigation (litigious services) has a reasonable prospect of success, or whether the proposed legal services (non-litigious legal services) will enable a beneficial strategic intervention that will significantly affect the lives of a group or a sizeable portion of a group.
  • A detailed budget setting out details of each of the stages of litigation and the total expenditure planned at each stage, including cash flows and when the said funds would likely be required.
  • Clear deliverables, key performance indicators and time frames for each of the various stages of litigation, as well as the legal representative’s experience in the area of impact litigation.

If you would like to know more about our Impact Litigation programme, you can read our Impact Litigation booklet:

Impact Litigation booklets: