The Law Society of Namibia has received several complaints from various members of the public regarding the advertisement placed by Metcalfe Attorneys in the Namibian newspaper.
The Law Society considered the advertisement and found it to be in unnecessarily bad taste and therefore in breach of the advertising guidelines set by the Rules of the Law Society of Namibia. These advertising guidelines are published in order to enable legal practitioners to advertise their services to the public at large, subject to certain requirements, including but not limited to the fact that the advertisements should be professional and in acceptable taste.
The Law Society confirms that it never approved this advertisement, and would not have approved it, considering the elements of sexism and the disrespect for women which appear clearly from the picture accompanying the advertisement. In this regard the Law Society condemns this degradation of women in the interests of the provision of legal services.
The main objective of the Law Society is to enhance and protect the integrity of the legal profession. The publishing of any advertisement which is in bad taste, whether as to content, prominence and medium, does not contribute to the integrity and positive image of the legal profession.
The LSN would urge the designers, media and the members of the LSN to act responsibly, with integrity and with professional respect when designing or publishing advertisements. Advertisements that purport to degrade the values of the community, or exploit members of the community are contrary to the lawful requirements for the publishing of advertisements of legal practitioners.
The Council of the Law Society of Namibia therefore distance itself publicly from this irresponsible advertisement and will consider referral of a complaint to the Statutory Disciplinary Committee appointed in terms of the Legal Practitioner’s Act 1995, to investigate charges of unprofessional, unethical and/or untoward conduct on the part of the legal practitioners involved.
The Law Society of Namibia also wishes to utilize this opportunity to urge all the legal firms to acquaint themselves with the advertising guidelines before advertising their firms, or to seek prior guidance from the Council should they be uncertain on any aspect thereof.
Retha Steinmann (Mrs)
Director: Law Society of Namibia
The advertising rules of the Law Society of Namibia allows a firm to advertise / publicise its practice
2.1 A firm may engage in any advertising, publicity or promotion in connection with its practice, or permit another person to do so on its behalf, provided such advertising, publicity or promotion complies with the provisions of these guidelines and does not in any manner compromise or impair nor is likely to compromise or impair any of the following:
2.1.1 the firm’s independence or integrity;
2.1.2 the client’s freedom to instruct a firm of his or her choice;
2.1.3 the firm’s duty to act in the best interests of the client;
2.1.4 the good repute of the legal profession;
2.1.5 the firm’s proper standard of work.
2.2 All publicity must be in good taste with regard to content, prominence and medium, and whether or not publicity is of good taste, shall be determined by the Council. Firms may seek Council’s prior guidance in this regard.
2.3 All publicity shall bear the name of the firm.
2.4 Publicity may not –
2.4.1 be inaccurate or likely to mislead;
2.4.2 include statements about the firm’s success rate;
2.4.3 be so frequent or obtrusive as to cause annoyance to those to whom it is directed;
2.4.4 make comparisons with, or criticise, other firm/s or members of any other profession;
2.4.5 criticise the quality of, be comparative with, or claim to be superior to the service provided by any other firm or any section of the legal profession.