Judge questions advocate’s trial fees

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Bloemfontein - An advocate who charged a trial fee for seven briefs in one day could be seen to be over-reaching, a judge in the Supreme Court of Appeal suggested on Monday.

Judge Robert Nugent asked how the advocate concerned was able to do this.

Toy de Klerk's lawyer explained that when an attorney approached his client, he had been honest and said he had six other briefs.

It was then agreed between De Klerk and the attorney that a trial fee would be charged.

“He prepares the seven briefs, he goes to court, then he will deal with each brief one-by-one,” the lawyer said.

“At the end of the day, he will settle all seven or proceed with one or two.”

Nugent said he still did not understand how De Klerk could charge a trial fee if a case did not go to trial.

“You cannot do seven trials in a day. So how can you charge for it?” he asked.

The lawyer said De Klerk accepted the briefs conditionally.

The SCA was hearing argument in an appeal hearing concerning 13 advocates accused of milking the Road Accident Fund.

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

The advocates 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 (overreaching), a practice which was rife in Pretoria in 2009.

The matter continues. - Sapa

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