RAF a bottomless pit, advocates claim

2011-08-31 21:33

Johannesburg - Advocates who face being struck off the roll for wrongdoing involving the Road Accident Fund (RAF), would rather repay the Cancer Association or the zoo, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.

Ordering the advocates to repay the RAF would be like dumping money into a bottomless pit, lawyer for one of the advocates, Peet Delport SC, argued.

Judge Kees Van Dijkhorst wanted to know if the pit was not bottomless, because it had to a large extent been depleted by legal fees.

Delport argued his client would rather pay the Cancer Association. Senior counsel for some of the other advocates suggested the money go to the zoo instead.

The General Council of the Bar has applied before a full bench, consisting of three retired high court judges, to strike the names of 13 Pretoria top advocates, off the roll.

The Pretoria Bar suspended 12 of them, for between four and six months, after they admitted to accepting multiple cases for the same court date and double billing in numerous matters involving the RAF.

The advocates have blamed a congested court roll, and an unhelpful RAF for bending the rules. They maintained what they did was not dishonest, but aimed at serving the public, who had otherwise waited up to two years to get a court date, and then still not be assured of receiving any compensation.

The Pretoria Bar asked the court to confirm the sanctions imposed on the advocates and decide the fate of those who denied guilt.

The general council regarded their actions as dishonest and wanted them struck off the roll of advocates.

Delport submitted the court take into account the advocates would never have broken the rules without the complicity of attorneys.

Although the Pretoria Bar had written to the Law Society and proposed similar action against the attorneys involved, nothing had happened to them.

The application continues.

  • rustic - 2011-08-31 21:41

    Yes, give it to the zoo. At least there will be less to plunder in the insatiable RAF.

      embargo - 2011-09-01 09:56

      The foundation of a nation is determined by it's legislation & how it is effectively upheld. Where this fails, anarchy awaits. May we continue to observe this behaviour in the claimed 'service delivery PROTESTS' & wage hike RIOTS never mind the rip-off of the legal profession. The moneys have always been given to the 'zoo', ever since the Rand started to fall through the floor...

  • Frans Smith - 2011-08-31 21:42

    thieves, all of them. i have been robbed by many attorneys (supposedly acting for me in business, some in child cases etc). scum of the earth, those who would knowingly defend thieves, rapists, murderes etc.

      ProudlyKgomo - 2011-08-31 22:01

      @Frans Just support your children and stop sending lawyers to assist you in your attempt to fail your children!

      silvijose - 2011-09-02 09:27

      It is unfair to generalise. Some lawyers, believe it or not, are honest and brilliant at what they do. Perhaps look at the infrustructure they work from... the ones with Fancy Buildings and huge overheads have to make a fortune every month to afford that, this is usually covered from RAF matters. My suggestion, go for the smaller firms.

  • Jonas_Barbar - 2011-08-31 21:51

    can't understand the uproar. if i can be in two places at the same time then certainly a lawyer can too

      Badballie - 2011-09-01 09:23

      @ Jonas_ Barbar: I'll type slowly so you can understand, These guys are only allowed to handle one case a day and charge for it at the daily rate of 8 hours. What they in fact did was handle multiple cases per day and charged each of them for the full 8 hours instead of apportioning the fees i.e 4 case charged at 8 hours each as apposed to charging 2 hours per case. this is a plain and simple case of fraudulent timekeeping, a dismissable offense in any other profession. Or are Lawyers like Government officials allowed to steal??

  • crackerr - 2011-08-31 21:59

    Double billing is no accident. They must be removed out of the legal profession. The legal system must be cleansed. Go work at the zoo. The stolen money must be repaid to the victim(s). It has NOTHING to do with the guilty thieves or the court what the victim does with the money. What is this now? Are they trying to get at the victim in a circuitous manner for having been exposed for their dishonesty?

  • Clive - 2011-08-31 22:05

    The RAF has been a cesspool of fraud, corruption and incompetence for yesrs, yet our "clever" finance ministers have continued to throw more motorists' money into it every year, instead of tackling the root causes. As with education and health, more money only exacerbates the problems, as there is more to steal.

  • Marius Rossouw - 2011-08-31 22:26

    Not enough days in a week to make money for some advocates and lawyers it seems. The legal system is a joke!

      Kevin - 2011-09-01 09:04

      The RAF must ensure the claimant and not the lawyer gets a copy of the agreed payout as the lawyers never show what actaully came .They pay over what they want and pocket the rest. Nail the bad ones

  • Neil - 2011-08-31 22:31

    Jail time for the scum, and sell their assets to recoup at least some of the stolen money. lets not forget that this money was stolen from the tax paying public and innocent road users. No better than hackers.

      Neil - 2011-09-01 02:05

      hijackers not hackers...Auto correct is a

  • rumsour - 2011-08-31 22:40

    The money being stolen is yours and mine, the court should send a strong signal and disbar both the the advocates and their partners in crime the lawyers, furthermore the censure must be used in any future cases where officers of the court (advocates and lawyers) are defrauding (stealing from) the public.

  • webstar - 2011-08-31 23:10

    I understand from several articles on this that what these advocates did was against the rules of the Pretoria Bar, but is not against the rules of the Johannesburg Bar or any other. Why are there different rules?

  • Atholl - 2011-08-31 23:26

    Courts have a duty to control and discipline ALL practitioners who practice within their jurisdiction - attorneys, advocates & judges. By the time the harm caused by these 783 thieves is realised, it's too late to undo the effect. If they think that the law and the constitution is a game, then they can go play their game in the zoo. ..... nobody is irreplaceable ....

  • duncan - 2011-09-01 05:42

    In the 60's and 70's in Cape Town there was a very well known lawyer who always claimed twice for every bumper bashing that happened on a corner, like most accidents do ! One claim for each street. You never had to think where to go. At the scene of the accident his name was just mentioned by all straight away. Nothing new this stealing………..

  • UnproudSA - 2011-09-01 06:32

    Please let us know from what racial group are the fraudsters. I will not put money on it, but have a good guess.....

  • Megan - 2011-09-01 07:47

    No one seems to understand that this would NEVER had happened if the RAF had just done their jobs properly in the very beginning! Any person not deemed at fault has the right (according to RAF) to be treated at a private hospital of which the RAF will cover the costs. There isn't a SINGLE private hospital in Cape Town who will accept non-medical aid, RAF patients, as the RAF NEVER pay, either the hospitals for the treatment given, or the victim of the road accident. Poison goes where posions welcome. If attorneys/advocates, etc are booking lots of people on the say day to appear in court and present their cases then of course you are going to charge more, and exactly how else is the back log of people waiting to claim compensation going to be cleared? Certainly not on any terms the RAF set out. Personally, I do not agree with existance of the RAF, road accidents are a part of life, regardless of what country you live in. Every single time someone gets into a vehicle they take the risk of being involved in a car accident and at the end of the day, no one FORCED you into the car.

  • NicaX - 2011-09-01 08:22

    What most of SA does not know that the fee structure for advocates the RAF uses are less than half what the advocates could otherwise charge any other client. Furthermore, you are lucky if you get paid within 3 years of doing the work. I would like to see all the people on their high horses trying to make a living that way. Do the work and maybe we will pay you a couple of years along the line. Don't comment if you don't know whats going on.

      Kevin - 2011-09-01 09:07

      Sure the lawyers are all upfront with the clients. If there was not good business in RAF work lawyers would stay away. Feel nothing when these buggers have ripped the system . Let them rot in jail

      Neil - 2011-09-01 10:44

      So fraud is alright in your book then. You should run for president.

  • Kevin - 2011-09-01 09:03

    Watch out when doing a RAF claim. The lawyers tell you they received x and actually received y. You must see the payout from the RAF and confirm it with them because there is a very good chance that you are getting 25% of the payout and the lawyer is sucking up the rest. Also agree up front what % of the payout will be his in lieu of payment 15% is a fair number.

  • Badballie - 2011-09-01 09:17

    so what do you suggest, that you be allowed to keep these illegal profits and the tax payer can pay in again?

  • NicaX - 2011-09-01 09:21

    @Kevin: It's a civil matter, you don't go to jail for that. You can only go to jail when you get convicted on criminal charges for which the penalty is jail time. And please note it is the attorneys who deal with the money after it has been paid out, not the advocates.

      embargo - 2011-09-01 10:09

      Let me get this right. Double billing = misrepresentation of charges = fraud having the outcome of unjustified enrichment = theft = criminal charges appropriate? That being the case, why should a criminal matter require the intervention of a civil court for damages? If not to further promote the unjustified enrichment within the legal industry perhaps? Further, does the Law Society and the principle of legal awareness not specify: A person MAY NOT take advantage of their legal knowledge? What's happened to the proper definition of ethics?

  • embargo - 2011-09-01 09:48

    Delport submitted the court take into account the advocates would never have broken the rules without the complicity of attorneys. Although the Pretoria Bar had written to the Law Society and proposed similar action against the attorneys involved, nothing had happened to them. The Brotherhood of Attorneys... Makes me wonder if they, as legally aware and tertiary educated, actually know the proper definition of 'ethics, ethical', or will the misunderstanding as against presumed 'professional priviledge continue?

  • JOHNSAYS - 2011-09-01 10:42

    Obviously the bulk of the people commenting here did not read properly and or do not understand what exactly happened... these guys didn't steal money by making false claims or robbing the RAF by gunpoint... they simply double booked their diaries for court dates where they would appear on behalf of either the RAF or a claimant against the RAF... if you have any knowledge of the court process in which these guys operate... you would know that 8 out 10 times the matter is postponed or settled before the doors of the court... what they probably then didn't do is reduce their day fee... but as some other person here stated... why this bar has different rules to the other advocate bar's is not clear...

      embargo - 2011-09-01 11:33

      Quote: "The Pretoria Bar suspended 12 of them, for between four and six months, after they admitted to accepting multiple cases for the same court date and double billing in numerous matters involving the RAF." Double billing? How shall we describe the second bill? As for the rest, sure, may be the case but does not motivate the billing question?

  • Gerhard - 2011-09-01 17:37

    I am amused by the comments, as no one here knows how this worked. These guys represented the public against the RAF. Since the RAF don't prepare properly and settle their matters well in advance, these matters mostly don't run or settle before court. So these counsel takes on more than one matter a day, and run the ones that are ready for court anS settle and postpone the others. The problem is the RAF must pay them their wasted day costs for each matter. The RAF created the opportunity, as if more than one rune, this advocate will be in deep trouble with his clients and a very upset judge, because you can't be in two places at once, which is why accepting more tahn one matter a day is unprofessional. Now the RAF cries because their incompetence is postponed. Its not right, but how wrong is it really to make the RAF pay for not preparing properly and wasting the claimant's money? If each advocate in Pretoria takes one RAF matter per day, there will not be enough advocates and two will have matters that actually runs.

  • Natalie - 2011-09-02 04:39

    I know some of these Advocates..must say Im surprised at some of the names..but not surprised at others..especially the one who chipped in while I was having a conversation about emmigrating to Australia, shouting at me to "please not come back as WE dont need people like you here"....must say ek kry nou baie lekker...and dont worry..I wont come back :) ..feel sorry for the others though, some of them are good people.

  • silvijose - 2011-09-02 09:22

    Explain to me how you can argue that it is in the publics interest to effectively steal money from people. We all contribute to the coffers of the RAF when we put in petrol, and these counsel are now attempting to justify haveing charge a full day fee for multiple matters on a single day. If the issue of accepting multiple instructions for a single day was the issue, I wouldnt have a problem, but the fact that they didnt apportion their day fees across all matters is what is ILLEGAL. It is the same as charging someone 5 times for the same item in a store - you are effectivelty stealing from the consumer...

  • John-Millan - 2011-09-02 12:22

    First of all non of this is theft. They merely breached some of the Pretoria Bars rules. There is no law against it. The Johannesburg bar allows for taking on more than one brief a day. This wouldnt even be as huge an issue in Joburg. Secondly the Road Accident Fund is in chaos. They plan to restructure it. Everyone was aware of this double briefing. In fact it was highly encouraged as it helped to remedy the case backlog. Most judges knew about it. Almost all advocates double brief.

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