About the Manual

The Paralegal Manual is an invaluable tool for anyone who works in the field of development and access to justice. It provides up-to-date information on most of the laws and legal procedures that affect everyone who lives in South Africa. The manual has been specifically developed to aid NGOs, advice offices, shop stewards, community development workers and others who assist disadvantaged individuals and communities to access state services or to sort out legal problems.


This manual has 16 chapters which deal with different areas of advice and paralegal work. Two other sections – a Legal Dictionary and Resources – are included for your information.


To help you find the information you need there are three other tools to use:

  • Overview of Topics shows the most important topics dealt with in each chapter. This is to help you identify at a glance which chapter to refer to when you are in need of information.
  • Topic Index is the quickest way to find information is to use this alphabetical topic index that gives page references for most topics covered in the manual.
  • Contents List at the beginning of each chapter. This includes the headings and sub-headings in the chapter and their page references.

In the text of each chapter we have included, where relevant, cross-references to other sections in the manual.

The Resources section is divided into the chapters in the manual. It contains useful addresses and contact numbers relevant to the specific chapters. It also has lists of publications for further reading.


If you are faced with a problem, look at the Overview of Topics to see in which chapter you might find information on the problem. You can also look at the alphabetical Topic Index. If you know which chapter the problem falls under, go to the contents list of that chapter.

For quick answers, check the Problems at the end of each chapter and see if your problem is covered there.

If you need to write a letter look at the Model Letters in that chapter to see if there is one that you can adapt to the situation you are dealing with. Remember not to just copy the letter – it is only included as an example.

If you need contact details for organisations or information on websites and publications, look under the Resources section.

The Legal Dictionary contains a list of difficult words with explanations.

We sincerely hope that the manual helps you with your work.