Welcome To The South African Medico-Legal Association

20 years ago, Dr/Adv Anton van den Bout, who is both an orthopaedic surgeon and an advocate, realised the need for like-minded individuals who work in the medico-legal space to get together to learn from one another and to communicate and this is why he started what was then known as the ‘South African Medico-Legal Society’. The core business of SAMLA through the years has been to sustain this vision through regular meetings and through seminars, workshops, and courses. 

Leadership and influence: Not only does SAMLA provide educational opportunities, but SAMLA provides a space in which those who have tremendous knowledge and experience can come together to communicate, to learn even more, and to influence the field of practice through their guidance, mentorship, and leadership. Furthermore, SAMLA has a determined transformation imperative and participation in SAMLA and its activities offers opportunities for these imperatives to be realised

Networking:SAMLA offers a space in which like-minded individuals who work in the medico-legal world have opportunities to get together and network, to share ideas, and to communicate.

Advocacy: SAMLA is not an advocacy group and does not advocate for plaintiffs or defendants and has no intention ever of being a “trade union”. SAMLA is neutral. SAMLA has, however become involved when the greater good of the public has been of concern.

Continuous professional development: For the past 20 years, the provincial branches of SAMLA have presented seminars, workshops, courses, and other educational offerings to its members on a wide range of topics that concern legal and healthcare practice in the medico-legal sphere.

Work opportunities: SAMLA does not advertise on behalf of any of its members and does not recommend members. However, the names of Members appear on the SAMLA website and Members have the choice to make their information more visible and therefore anyone looking to instruct attorneys, advocates or experts can do so easily.

Acknowledgement of experience and competency: The register of medico-legal practitioners as well as the  register of medico-legal mediators offer members of SAMLA acknowledgement of their experience and competency and offer the opportunity for others to recognise this. In so doing, SAMLA encourages on-going learning as a means to improve the standard of service delivery in the medico-legal practivce.

Topic-specific inteerest groups:SAMLA has two active interest groups: Quantification Interest Group,  and the Case Management/Trusts Interest Group. All members of SAMLA are welcome to join these groups.

SAMLA Projects: SAMLA has had the benefit of some of its members being visionary and innovative. One of the most recent projects has been the development of the mediation pilot projects with the Road Accident Fund and with the State dealing with medical negligence cases. SAMLA envisioned the importance of mediation and alternative dispute resolution in the medico-legal sphere in anticipation of rule 41A as well as the encouragement of mediation by the magistrate’s courts, but also as a means to resolving the medico-legal crisis. Involvement in such projects allows medico-legal practitioners to develop and hone their skills. The project has resulted in SAMLA’s development of guidelines for medico-legal mediation which are constantly being revised. Data from the pilot projects will be analysed for further professional development.

Ethical practice: SAMLA has developed a unique code of conduct for people working in the medico-legal world. On-going mentoring and continuous professional development activities assist with promoting ethical practice based on Constitutional values.

Mentoring: Through association and communication with other Members, our Members have the opportunity to be mentored and to mentor. This interaction is immensely valuable, and is encouraged by the Board.

Information: SAMLA posts articles, papers and judgements of interest on its website. Many of the articles and judgements that have been cited on the SAMLA courses have been uploaded.



Notice board

News from SAMLA and announcements

  • SAMLA membership elected a new Board at the AGM on 27 November 2021. Congratulations to all the new members of the Board. The Board information will be replaced on the website in January 2021. Prof Ethelwynn Stelleberg was elected as the National Chairperson, with Adv Johanni Barnardt and Dr Sharon Munyaka as the deputy Chairpersons (legal and health respectively).
  • Congratulations to the newly elected chairpersons of the SAMLA provincial branches:
    Mr Renier Jacobs: Chairperson of the Western Cape Branch
    Ms Gugu Gopfert: Chairperson of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Branch
    Ms Stacey Aires: Chairperson of the Gauteng Branch
    Mr Thabiso Rapapali: Chairperson of the Free State Branch
    Ms Desiree David: Chairperson of the Eastern Cape Branch.
  • SAMLA is pleased to annonce that Mrs Leigh de Souza-Spagnoletti is the new convenor of the SAMLA RAF Committee. She has taken over from Dr Hans Enslin who ran this group for many years.


SAMLA's Education and Training

As of the end of the final Workshop in 2021, SAMLA's National Courses are longer be available.The Board made the decision that unfortunately, the Foundations Course and the Workshops are no longer viable. The Foundations Course was developed in 2017 and presented live in 2018 and online after that. By now, there have been enormous changes in the science and law of medico-legal practice. SAMLA cannot continue to provide lectures that are increasingly outdated. To update and re-create the Foundations Course is not possible at this stage  - remembering that everything that is done by SAMLA is done by its Board and committee members on a voluntary basis. It is too expensive and too big a project for SAMLA as a small organisation to maintain.

However, and this is a big 'however', SAMLA's Education and Training Committee is actively re-designing SAMLA's seminars and workshops so that we will be able to provide on-going lectures, seminars and case discussions, as well as mock trials. We aim to provide education and training in foundational aspects and also aim to provide more advanced education for the more experienced Members. We will post a calendar of events early in 2022.

GAUTENG Branch of SAMLA holds monthly "Fireside Chats", which involve case discussions, panel discussion and are CPD accredited.  Please go to the regional seminars page to book.

SAMLA has important Interest Groups that hold regular sessions including discussions and talks on (i) Fund management and (ii) Quantifications. Please e mail us at info@samla.org.za and we'll put you in touch with the relevant convenor.

Mrs Leigh de Souza-Spagnoletti has taken over from Dr Hans Enslin the steering wheel to drive the SAMLA RAF Committee


Professionalisation and registration as a medico-legal practitioner

All Members of SAMLA who are registered with a professional regulatory body are invited to apply to appear on SAMLA's Register of Medico-Legal Practitioners.

Note that one cannot simply register as a medico-legal practitioner. You may register as a Member but to be a SAMLA-recognised Medico-Legal Practitioner, you need to apply for accreditation first.

A Medico-Legal Practitioner is an individual who works in the medico-legal space, who is in good standing with his or her primary professional regulatory body  and who  has volunteered him/herself to peer review, and who  has committed him/herself  to SAMLA’s unique code of conduct in medico-legal practice. For more details, you can read our MOI in which these details are specified. 

To appear on the SAMLA Register of Medico-Legal Practitioners,  one submits one’s credentials to SAMLA’s Credentialling Committee which comprises senior members of the legal and healthcare professions who have extensive experience in medico-legal practice. If the applicant’s credentials satisfy the requirements specified, then that applicant may register as a Medico-Legal Practitioner.  All Members of SAMLA who appear on the register of Medico-Legal Practitioners commit themselves to SAMLA’s code of professional conduct. 

The proposed tiers of registration as Medico-Legal Practitioners have been circulated to the broader membership for consideration, but not yet been established. We envision three tiers - an entry level, a senior level and an advanced level, to reflect experience and seniority, and to promote a development trajectory.

What is really important is that SAMLA is not, and does not intend ever to be a regulatory body. We do not, in any way, see our role as supervisory. The registers are simply lists of persons in the medico-legal field who voluntarily show that they have pursued learning in this field, demonstrate competency,  are willing to demonstrate on-going learning in the medico-legal sphere by earning specific points in medico-legal CPD annually, and are willing to commit themselves to a code of conduct. 

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