Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court has ordered the name of Gansbaai-based attorney, Daniel Gerrit Smit Van Wyk, 57, to be struck off the roll of attorneys after he notched up what Judge Mark Sher called “a dismal record of disciplinary infractions which go back some 23 years, to 1998.”
The Legal Practice Council (LPC), the profession’s regulatory body, took the matter over from the now defunct Law Society of the Cape of Good Hope, which had originally brought a case against Van Wyk in March 2013.
In its original form the case was an urgent application to interdict Van Wyk from practising as an attorney and authorising the Director of the Law Society to take control of his trust accounts as curator, pending an application to strike him from the roll of attorneys.
Back in November 2012 Van Wyk had been found guilty by the Law Society of 42 acts of professional misconduct which had been committed over a period of 14 years, for which he had cumulatively been fined a total of just short of R400 000.
“Aside from these transgressions the respondent’s record of misconduct reflects that over a period of more than 10 years he repeatedly and consistently failed to measure up to that standard of ethical behaviour and conduct required of an attorney, by not adhering to the basic rules of the profession.
“He repeatedly and consistently failed his clients, by not carrying out the mandate or instructions he had been given, and when called to account to them frequently ignored them. When the Law Society sought explanations for his behaviour he often ignored it too,” said Judge Sher.
Meanwhile, the judge took issue with the Law Society and the LPC for taking so long to bring the case before the court.
The judge ordered that the registrar of the court ensure that the chairperson of the LPC receive a copy of the judgment in the next five days, for her comment and report-back to the court within the next three months
“She must explain why the matter took eight years to come before the court, and the manner in which the matter was dealt with, as well as her report as to what steps have been taken or will be taken by the LPC to hold accountable those who were responsible for what happened,” said Judge Sher.