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Mr Anthony Millar

Millar - JSC Interviews - October 2019

Profile

Current position: Attorney

Date appointed:

Candidate bio:

According to media reports, Millar has championed lower legal costs for clients — to the point of enraging the scandal-ridden personal injury lawyers Ronald Bobroff and his son, Darren, after one of his clients had sued them over fees charged.

The Bobroffs had slipped the country to Australia in 2016 before they could be arrested on charges of fraud, theft and offences under the VAT Act. They laid a compliant of unprofessional conduct against Millar, which was dismissed by the Law Society of the Northern Provinces.

In the 2018 matter of Thwala v the Minister of Police and Another, the applicant sued for damages suffered as a result of an alleged unlawful arrest and subsequent malicious prosecution.

Millar found there had been a lawful arrest warrant, and focused on whether the discretion to arrest had been properly exercised. Concluding that the officer in charge had exercised his discretion properly, Millar dismissed the case, but found that the public prosecutor, who was the second respondent in the matter, was liable for such damages as the plaintiff might prove.

Fifty-year-old Millar has a BA (1990) and LLB (1993) from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Millar has worked as an attorney for all of his legal career rising up in the ranks of the firm where he served articles to become a director. During his career he has served as the president and a councillor of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces. He is a commissioner of the small claims court. He was a member of the Black Lawyers Association (BLA) from 1999 until 2015.

October 2019 Interview:


October 2019 Interview Synopsis:

Mr Anthony Millar comes to the JSC with 24 years of experience as a practicing attorney. As usual, the Chief Justice’s preliminary questions related precisely to this experience, and how this experience has prepared him for judicial office. Mr Millar explained that he had spent 42 weeks as an acting judge in the Gauteng High Courts, where he was exposed to the entire gamut of civil matters and criminal appeals. He was therefore prepared. He added that, on average, he handed judgments within a month of the hearing – which seemed to impress a number of commissioners.

The only judgment he had taken more than a month, Mr Millar explained, was when he sat as a member of the Full Bench, in a case concerning the interpretation of the controversial Legal Practice Act of 2014 (LPA). One of the most controversial aspects of the LPA is its requirement that all advocates associations be dissolved to form the new Legal Practice Council (LPC), of which Mr Millar was an elected councillor. Unsurprisingly, Commissioner Jenny Cane, representing advocates of the General Council of the Bar (GCB), picked up on this issue during the interview. She asked for Mr Millar’s approach on the question of the legal standing of the advocates’ societies when deciding appeals brought to the LPC, but also his approach as a judge if a hypothetical case concerning these issues was brought before him. Mr Millar explained that he generally sits with other councillors (some of whom are advocates) when deciding issues of advocates associations. He declined to speculate on the hypothetical case, but explained that he would bring an open mind and would follow the law.

A thorny issue that came up several times during Mr Millar’s interview was the question of his contribution to the transformation of the legal profession. Earlier, in response to a question by MEC Jacob Mamabolo (representing the Premier), Mr Millar explained that at his law firm he had trained several black and women junior attorneys, but also during his service on various professional bodies he had promoted several initiatives to promote access to the legal profession for black lawyers. Unsatisfied with this response, Commissioner Magwanishe specifically asked how many and what nature of briefs his firm gave to black, women advocates. Mr Millar explained that his firm never kept statistics but generally briefed a person they trusted, depending on available work.

The interview quickly went downhill from this point, as several other commissioners asked how could Mr Millar justify his contribution to transformation if he never kept a record of the people he briefed. Pressed for answers, he ultimately mentioned a few names, none of whom included black senior counsel. But this did not quite pull him off the hook, as he was later asked why he abruptly resigned his 20-year membership of the Black Lawyers Association – which he explained was due to a request by the BLA to sit as member of the LPC and drive transformation of the profession. On whether he would yield to a black woman being recommend in his stead, he conceded that he would.

Mr Millar was not recommended for appointment.