Society dismisses Sharemax attorneys case

By Roy Cokayne Time of article published Aug 15, 2011

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Roy Cokayne

A disciplinary hearing by the Law Society of the Northern Provinces into complaints lodged against Sharemax attorneys Weavind & Weavind has found that there was no unprofessional conduct by the firm.

However, Pierre Hough, an adviser to the two complainants, has given the Law Society of the Northern Provinces notice he intends to bring a high court application to get the court to decide if there was any professional negligence by the law firm.

Weavind & Weavind managing director Raiford Johnson said the firm was obviously delighted with the outcome and felt vindicated by the decision.

“We believe, however, that it should never have gone this far. The claims, which emanated mainly from one questionable source, were spurious and malicious and should not have received any attention.”

Both complainants, Johanna Bosman and Toffie Risk, are believed to have withdrawn their complaints prior to the disciplinary hearing, which took place on July 27.

Hough lodged a further complaint with the law society a few days before the hearing, alleging attempted extortion and unprofessional conduct by Weavind & Weavind.

He claimed attempts were made to get his client, Toffie Risk, to withdraw his complaint to the law society and the SAPS and that Risk was living in fear over a damages action instituted against him by Weavind & Weavind.

Weavind & Weavind instituted a multimillion-rand damages claim against Bosman, Risk and Hough for defamation related to allegations of theft contained in sworn affidavits submitted to the law society in support of their complaint to the law society about Weavind & Weavind and a claim against the Attorneys Fidelity Fund.

The Law Society for the Northern Provinces failed to comment on whether Bosman and Risk had withdrawn their complaints and in its response did not mention the alleged attempted extortion complaint.

Thinus Grobler, the director of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, said it was not policy or deemed appropriate by the society to divulge information in the media related to disciplinary investigations of the nature referred to in Business Report’s enquiry.

“Disciplinary proceedings are confidential except when findings have been made, which are then disclosed.

“The law society has conducted a full and proper investigation into the complaints and allegations raised against the attorneys concerned and the matter was heard by an investigating committee, having regard to all the factual evidence available when a finding was made that no unprofessional conduct was found on the part of the attorneys.

“The complaints have thus been properly dealt with and finalised, including the recent complaint received from Mr Hough,” he said.

The affidavits submitted to the law society were also submitted to the SAPS when a fraud charge was laid against Weavind & Weavind in October last year.

Mthunzi Mhaga, a National Prosecuting Authority spokesman, confirmed on Thursday that specialised commercial crime unit prosecutors in Pretoria had declined in February to prosecute “due to insufficiency of evidence”.

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