THE TOOTHLESS LEGAL HOUND:
How to sniff out fake “lawyers”
So called legal agents and “consultants” are proliferating at a rate of knots.
Registered practices are not permitted to operate as a close corporation (CC) or proprietary limited (Pty Ltd) but only as sole proprietorships, partnerships and/or Incorporations (Inc.), with the name/s of the proprietor, partners or directors featuring in the letterhead/footer. The difference between a CC or Pty and an Inc, is that directors of the latter are personally accountable and can’t hide behind the corporate veil.
Qualifying as a registered practitioner is an arduous process requiring in excess of 7 years of study, candidacy and scrutiny. The commencement of candidacy requires a ‘fit and proper’ test conducted by a registered practitioner with more than 3 years’ post admission experience. Once registered, it takes a period of time prior to being able to apply for ‘right of appearance’ in court. Board exams test knowledge and ethics of the highest standards, the passing of which is by no means au fait accompli, with failures abound.
After candidacy of a minimum of 2 years, and only once all of the board exams are passed, can an application be made for admission as a registered practitioner, which is made to the high court and scrutinised by a Judge. It’s no easy affair.
Once admitted or registered, practitioners are governed by the Legal Practice Act which holds them to stringent ethical standards. Practitioners who fail to uphold these professional standards are often removed from the roll of registered practitioners.
Certain of these (il)legal charlatans find nefarious ways of mispresenting themselves to the public at large. Technological advancement and manipulation unfortunately enable every man and his dog to misrepresent themselves as ‘lawyers’, dispatching letters of demand, making calls threatening to issue summons and the like. Rest assured that this modus operandi amounts to nothing but a ‘bark with no bite’, as they are unable to issue processes out of, or even represent clients in, a court of law.
BEWARE! When receiving a letter of demand from what appears not to be a registered legal practice, feel free to contact Linklawyer to ascertain whether the sender is registered and to refer you to one that is as well as reputable. This service is entirely complimentary.