How to find a divorce lawyer in Cape Town, South Africa

Changing your divorce lawyer

Very often a party to a divorce action uses one or more lawyers (in this article the term "lawyer" is used interchangeably with the term "attorney"). There could be various reasons for this. An attorney may be seen to be “too slow”, or a client may believe that the attorney is charging too much. In some cases clients even come and say that their attorney “disappeared” with their money and even sometimes that the attorney “died”.

The new attorney is then approached to take over the case. The client must however first send a letter to the previous lawyer reading as follows: “I hereby terminate your mandate to represent me in my divorce action. Kindly could you file your notice of withdrawal as attorneys of record as soon as possible”.

The previous lawyer would then work out his final account and on payment of the account hand over to the client the entire file or copies thereof. In the normal course he would make copies of the file for his own record, and for example for reference later if his account is challenged, and the matter referred to a “taxing master” to look at the account, and make a decision on whether it should be reduced or not.

On receipt of the contents of the file, the new attorney would normally carry on using the same pleadings as the previous attorney. The first step of the new lawyer would be to draft a “notice of appointment as attorneys of record”, which would read along these lines:Be pleased to take notice that the Plaintiff (or Defendant) hereby appoints the offices of Joe Soap Attorneys, 7th Floor, Divorce Building, 199 Divorce Street, Cape Town, as the offices where he/she will receive any further documentation in connection with the above matter”. This notice of appointment as attorney of record would then be served on the other side’s lawyers.

From an ethical viewpoint a new attorney may only represent a client once he has received the notice of withdrawal as attorneys of record from the previous attorney.

It sometimes happens that two different parties start off by using their own lawyers, and later, to save costs, agree to use the same lawyer. It is always a client’s right to approach a new attorney for representation should he/she no longer be happy with the services of the previous attorney.

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