SCA sides with Legal Aid Board

2010-09-22 20:33

Bloemfontein - The Supreme Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld an appeal by the Legal Aid Board against a court decision that the board should supply legal aid to Gary Porritt and Sue Bennett, facing more than 3 000 fraud charges.

The Gauteng South High Court earlier ordered the Legal Aid Board (LAB) to provide legal aid to Porritt and Bennett who have been indicted together with various companies they represent on a total of 3 160 fraud charges.

The Supreme Court (SCA) held, on analysing Porritt and Bennett's responses to the high court on reasons for applying for legal aid, that the responses illustrated a complete lack of candour by both of them.

The SCA found the high court was wrong in finding that Bennett and Porritt had shown themselves to be indigent as defined.

The matter relates to investigations into the collapse of financial services company Tigon and the PSC Guaranteed Growth fund, which allegedly wiped out millions of rand belonging to 3 000 investors.

The SCA also refused to endorse the high court order which stipulated that the LAB provide each of the respondents (Porritt and Bennett) with two advocates in private practice to be remunerated in accordance with the maximum rates permitted by the Legal Aid Tariff.

Both Porritt and Bennett are out on bail.

Porritt's bail was initially fixed at R1 million but was reduced to R800 000 while Bennett's bail was fixed at R100 000.

The two have been without legal representation since May 2007, although their case was brought before the court in January 2006.

The criminal trial has yet to start.