How to confirm if an attorney is legitimate

A client recently attended on Paizes Attorneys offices with a large outstanding amount of money due and owing to her in terms of a verbal agreement reached with a third party. The client had instructed another attorney to sue for the amount outstanding. The attorney had invoiced the client and the client had placed a large deposit into the attorneys account. However, for a 3-year duration, the attorney had not sued the third party on the client’s behalf and she therefore sought our assistance in doing so.

On hearing the client’s story it was quiet clear that the client’s claim had prescribed (Meaning the client could no longer claim against the third party, as it was after a 3-year period in this case). Paizes Attorneys then tried to determine who the attorneys were that assisted the client. Upon further investigation we determined that the attorney who assisted the client, and in fact the law firm, was not even registered with the Legal Practice Council. The client was horrified and honestly believed that the person who assisted her was an attorney and that the law firm was a properly established law firm.

Unfortunately the client not only lost the amount due and owing to her in terms of the verbal agreement with the third party, but the person that fraudulently misrepresented themselves could not be traced and sued for damages as the client did not have sufficient details for this.

If the person was a registered and qualified attorney the client could seek the assistance of the Attorneys Fidelity Fund and could claim a portion of the outstanding claim through this insurance that all qualified attorneys need to be registered with.

In order to confirm whether an attorney is legitimate (as well as the attorney’s law firm), we urge you to do the following:

  • contact the Legal Practice Council and determine whether the person is in good standing with the Legal Practice Council; and
  • check with the Legal Practice Council whether the person, and law firm, has been issued with a fidelity fund certificate for that year; and
  • request the attorney to see his or her qualifications as well as the issued fidelity fund certificate.

See the Legal Practice Council website to search for legal practitioners.

Yulie Paizes from Paizes Attorneys is a qualified attorney with High Court rights of appearance. She is registered as a Director at the law firm Paizes Attorneys Incorporated and with the Legal Practice Council. Yulie Paizes is in good standing with the Legal Practice Council and has been issued with yearly fidelity fund certificates. Paizes Attorneys visibly displays all necessary certificates and we have no problem in clients confirming with the relevant institutions.

For further information please do not hesitate to contact us.