Editor's Note Quarter 4 2021

By MYRLE VANDERSTRAETEN, Published in Editor's Note

... and then without prejudice was 20.The anniversary of such auspicious beginnings should be celebrated in style, but unfortunately, this is precluded by the current state of our world. Be that as it may, this anniversary is an opportunity to acknowledge some very special people, and should not pass without comment and thanks to those who have made without prejudice possible. In particular, I would like to thank the magazine's core sponsors, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and Webber Wentzel.

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Webber Wentzel has been a sponsor of the magazine since the founder of Gleason Publications, the late David Gleason came up with a plan to involve the law firms in 2004. Johann Scholtz has been the firm's editorial board representative, almost from the beginning, and sat as a valued chairman for more than two terms of office, one at a most challenging time. His words of wisdom, encouragement and unwavering support over the years deserve special mention. Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr joined the sponsor board not long after, and the firm's representative, Johan Latsky, has championed the magazine and ensured that the value of the firm's participation – not just financial, but in the form of excellent articles – is well known. These firms have provided financial support without which the magazine would not exist, and our gratitude is without limit. The standard that has been set by our sponsors, and writers in various fields of law, all of whom provide informative and interesting articles, has ensured that without prejudice is known as a source of information not readily found elsewhere.

Over the years, various firms have supported without prejudice as sponsors, and many of their representatives have provided inspiration for the routes that the magazine has followed. I am delighted that Patrick Bracher, who was chairman of the Editorial Board for several years, has written for this 20th anniversary issue. Over many years, his much-anticipated monthly column – Not the law reports – written under the pseudonym Nemo Judex, acquired many followers. These delightful columns mixed fact and fiction to the extent that I had several lawyers phone to find out where they could acquire the details of the judgments to assist them with cases in which they were involved.

John McKnight, also a past chairman, has written brain taxing music quizzes at Christmas. Fans will cheer when they find that this 'Christmas quarter' is no exception. John's quiz will, however, stretch your brain a little differently this year.

Had David Gleason not taken up the suggestion brought to him by Chris Christodoulou twenty years ago, without prejudice would not have enriched the corporate and legal landscape of South Africa with the knowledge provided by so many practitioners over the years.

Of course, our publication would have not have been possible without everyone at Gleason Publications and my thanks go to them all. But in particular I would like to thank the without prejudice team: sub-editor Gail Schimmel, copy editor Lee Robinson, graphic designer Janine Harms and Vanessa Aitken who continues to wear several hats.

The economy continues to see-saw. In a world where many expect information for nothing this adds to the difficulties faced by those in media. It should come as no surprise that publications like without prejudice are not produced on 'love and fresh air'. I hope that as the economy improves, firms will recognise that the magazine is a vital source of information to many – not least for those who do not have the benefit of working with teams in different practice areas. With the introduction of different levels of sponsorship, it is now possible for a wider range of firms to support without prejudice. I must thank Lawtons and Absa for picking up the baton, and I am grateful to those firms and individuals who have provided ad hoc financial support over the past few years, based on their belief in without prejudice's place on the legal and corporate landscape; you have made the difference.

If without prejudice's twentieth anniversary has been punctuated by COVID-19, it was the aftermath of 9/11 that dominated when the magazine was first published in 2001. Almost in the middle of the magazine's existence came the financial crisis. All these events have had a profound effect on the law, world economy and, without doubt, the psyche of everyone.

The law and politics are inextricably intertwined and, over the years, articles have been written on how far those who are in office – whose function is to protect the country and our people – have strayed in their belief of their omnipotence. Regrettably, the law, along with politics, has once again been contaminated. It seems that the sentiment, 'justice delayed is justice denied' is of no concern and, once again, the public does not trust the justice system. There are several lawyers who have written in without prejudice about issues which can no longer go unchallenged. At a time when the public has graphically displayed its disappointment in those who hold high office, the judiciary would do well to remember that people who are tainted are not welcome in a sector intended to set the moral example.

In April 2020, without prejudice changed from a print and digital publication to digital-only, due to COVID-19. 2021 saw the successful transition from a monthly publication to a quarterly publication that is widely read. I must most sincerely thank the many practitioners who devote their personal time and apply considerable effort to writing articles that inform our readers, often on lesser-known aspects of the many areas of law.

I have included the first issue of without prejudice – October 2001. As much as things change there remains a sense of plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Kerri Wilson has given us a taste of her first year practising in London to compare it with what is was like in 2001 and in this quarter's feature, Niven Naidoo follows up on the 2001 lead story.

May this festive season be a safe and happy one for our extended without prejudice family and readers. My wish for everyone in our uncertain world is a new year of promise, clarity and kindness.