Court hears about advocate’s plea

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Bloemfontein - Advocate Thillay Pillay did not plead guilty to over-reaching, but rather to over-charging, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) heard on Monday.

The SCA was hearing argument in an appeal hearing concerning 13

advocates accused of milking the Road Accident Fund.

Pillay's lawyer told the court there was a problem with the facts of the matter and a lack of detail relating to the dishonesty element.

However, Judge Robert Nugent said Pillay had been found guilty of over-reaching.

“The fact of the matter is it was over-reaching... Did he act honestly or dishonestly?” Nugent asked.

The two-day appeal hearing follows an application by the General Council of the Bar to strike off the 13 advocates, who are senior members of the Pretoria Bar.

They were found to have accepted multiple cases on the same day (so-called double briefing) and to have charged a full day's fee for each case (over-reaching), a practice which was rife in Pretoria in 2009.

Pillay's lawyer argued his client was young and started his practice only in 2002. He was not aware that he was doing something wrong by marking briefs as trials and charging for them. Pillay had not thought he was acting dishonestly.

Nugent said there were briefs marked as trials, but which did not go to trial.

Judge Lex Mpati said Pillay, in his court papers, said he did know he was acting “so and so”.

Judge Malcolm Wallis noted that Pillay said during a disciplinary hearing he was aware that he could not double brief.

“Was your client aware of the rules? His answer was yes... now his answer is apparently no,” said Wallis.

The matter continues. - Sapa

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