LEAP came into existence in 1988 when a group of KwaZulu-Natal land practitioners from NGOs, government and the private sector began to focus on why the communal property institutions (CPIs) set up under land reform appeared to be failing. The Legal Entity Assessment Project, as it was initially known, questioned the widely held view that the land reform communal property associations (CPAs) and trusts needed capacity building. Instead, LEAP argued that there were no clear indicators for assessing success or failure and that these micro institutions were overloaded with development objectives that often were the proper responsibility of government. In the search for firm foundational objectives, LEAP suggested that tenure security for individuals and the group as an entity was the primary purpose of CPIs, and that other development objectives could be built on this foundation.
Thinking practically and conceptually about how to achieve this took LEAP on a long journey that gradually pulled in people from across the country in both the rural and urban sectors who were working on land administration, customary tenure, housing and tenure arrangements.
LEAP is no longer in existence but its work remains of value to current initiatives to reform and secure tenure and recognise off-register rights in South Africa. Key documents from its archives have been uploaded to the Land Portal.