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

Check your lawyer's credentials

I recently watched a programme on Carte Blanche relating to how this lady claimed to be a qualified medical doctor and beauty therapist. She performed various operations on people's faces, leaving them disfigured, and even applying acid to some faces! When Carte Blanche investigated the matter it became apparent that this lady had been misleading people into believing she was a doctor, taking their money and performing operations, which most of the time were not done properly.

In any profession there will be “chancers” wanting to take your money off you, including in divorce law circles. I recently had a divorce case where I was acting for the man. The lady arrived at court with a gentleman who introduced himself to me as a “paralegal”. He had apparently drafted all of her divorce documentation, had charged her even, but now that the matter had been set down for court he advised her that he never had the necessary authority to represent her in court.

The man in the abovementioned case had basically misrepresented to my client's wife that he was a “community legal lawyer” (in her own words she had even referred to him as such during a telephonic discussion I had with her). At court the magistrate advised me that she was not going to entertain this man in her court, that his papers had been shockingly drafted, and that she could not believe that he even had charged his client for his services.

It could be very easy for a layman who is going through a divorce to be manipulated into using the services of a “chancer”. He or she may be somebody who claims to be able to do a whole divorce for R500 or less. You may be approached by him/her while seeking advice at the court. Some of these “chancers” hand out cards to people in the court waiting rooms. A normal attorney would not do this as it is unethical to “tout” for work.

Before instructing an attorney to handle your divorce, you should be one hundred percent certain that the person you are instructing has the correct legal qualifications to represent you. He or she should have a “legum baccalareus” (LL.B.) degree from a recognised university, and should have passed the board exam too. The only way to find out if your attorney is an admitted attorney is by phoning the Law Society. The number of the Cape Law Society is (021) 443 6700. There is a Law Society in each province.

The Law Society will be able to tell you if your attorney's firm is registered with the law society or not. Should your attorney advise you that he doesn't work in a law firm but is a “paralegal” or “accountant who is a qualified attorney” or a “legal advisor” or something similar, but does not give you a clear answer on his or her qualifications, he or she is probably a “chancer” and it is best not to use his or her services.

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