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Complaints to the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society about Attorneys


Complaints Procedure

Infographic

Law Society and Attorneys Fidelity Fund Launch Trustline : Promoting Trust in the Attorneys' Profession
Joint press release by the Law Society of South Africa and the Attorneys Fidelity Fund
10 September 2013


What the Law Society Can and Cannot Do

(1) The Law Society upholds the standards of conduct which every attorney practising in KwaZulu-Natal is required to observe. The Society does so by investigating all complaints about conduct unbefitting an attorney.

(2) The Law Society’s control over attorneys’ conduct is limited to their professional conduct as distinct from their competence.

(3) The first step in dealing with a complaint is to decide whether it is a complaint which the Society can investigate.

Examples of complaints which the Society can investigate are: failure to reply to correspondence, failure to account for clients’ money, breach of confidence, conflict of interest and dishonesty.

(4) However, if the complainant says that he/she wants compensation because the attorney has been negligent, then that is not a complaint which the Society can investigate.

Such a complaint concerns legal issues which only a Court and not the Society can decide on.


How to complain

(1) Every complaint shall, except in exceptional circumstances, be set out in a sworn affidavit.

(2) In the affidavit the complainant must set out:

(a) the name and address of the attorney who is the subject of the complaint;

and

(b) clear and concise details of the attorney’s conduct which the complainant alleges constitutes misconduct by the attorney.

(3) Every page of the affidavit needs to be initialled by both the complainant and the Commissioner of Oaths.

(4) Only copies of relevant documents which support the allegations of misconduct should be attached to the affidavit.


The Law Society and the Public

If there is proof of conduct unbefitting an attorney, it is not the Society’s duty to protect the attorney, but to ensure that the attorney is suitably disciplined.

Such discipline could be a reprimand or a fine of up to R100 000-00.

However, if the conduct of the attorney is such as to render the attorney unfit to practise as an attorney then the Society will apply to the High Court to have the attorney suspended from practising as an attorney or to have the attorney's name struck off the roll of attorneys.

The Society does not have the power to order an attorney to pay compensation to a complainant.

Only the Court can make such an order.

The Society does not take sides, but seeks at all times to act fairly and impartially.

Complaints will be accepted via Email / Fax and Ordinary Post :

Regulatory Affairs Department
KwaZulu-Natal Law Society
P O Box 1454
Pietermaritzburg 3200


Telephone : 033-345 1304
Fax: 033-345 3028

E mail:


Updated 26 June 2015

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