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

Unethical divorce attorneys

As an attorney takes an oath when he/she is admitted to practice as an attorney that he/she will always act with the greatest integrity and only act in the interests of his/her client, he/she has a duty to his/her client always to act in the utmost good faith.

Some attorneys have landed up in trouble because they have breached their ethical duty towards their client. An example of this in recent cases was when an attorney who was instructed by one party in a divorce matter, suddenly began acting in the interests of the other party. This is totally unethical and unacceptable, and a client reserves the right to approach the law society and to lodge a complaint against the attorney. In the normal course the law society would investigate the complaint, and the attorney may or may not be fined for his misconduct. In certain instances the attorney may even be disbarred.

In a recent case a man was divorcing his wife and claiming custody of the two minor children. The attorney brought an urgent application for his client’s spouse to return household goods which she had taken when she left the family home. The judge took the view that the application was only brought by the attorney to harass and intimidate his client’s spouse. The judge pointed out in this case that people in divorces went to attorneys to “assist them in safe guarding their interests and the rights of their family”, but in this case the judge said that “the attorney is not assisting the resolution of his client’s problems – he is exacerbating them”.

The matter was not referred to the law society by the judge, but the co chairperson of the law society said that it was “unacceptable for attorneys to use intimadatory tactics aimed at getting an unfair advantage in the case”.

It is important when choosing an attorney to choose an attorney who is aggressive in his approach, but somebody also who acts ethically at all times. An attorney should also not ever convince a client not to settle a matter when it can in fact be settled so that the attorney can himself gain financially out of the matter (and before you even choose your attorney, make sure he really is an attorney).

If you have instructed an attorney who has in any way acted unprofessionally, unethically, or made himself/herself guilty of conduct unbecoming of an attorney, it may be wise to lodge a complaint to the South African law society or to seek alternative legal representation.


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