LETTER PRESENTED FOR POSSIBLE PUBLICATIONS IN DE REBUS
Our reference: MR L.M. KOBRIN
Date: 18th August 2014
PER E MAIL
ETHICAL POSITION WHEN CLIENT TERMINATES MANDATE
i act for a client, who was seriously injured in a motor accident, in respect of his claim against the Road Accident Fund, the trial in respect of which has been set down for hearing in the High Court Pretoria on 12th October 2014. I am fully prepared for this Trial and have briefed Counsel and my expert Notices and reports have been timeously filed and as matters presently stand Counsel and I are actively involved in trial preparation.
Most unexpectedly and without prior warning, I have just received a letter from another firm of Attorneys intimating that my Client has terminated my mandate to act and has instructed that firm to continue the matter. My file of papers has been requested. I would only be prepared to release our file and permit the Attorney to continue the matter upon payment of my taxed Attorney and Client Bill of costs.
I undoubtedly recognize that the Client has the inalienable right to be represented by an Attorney of his own choice and in whom he has confidence. However by the time MY bill which has to be prepared is taxed and I am paid, there will be precious little time for the new Attorney to acquaint himself with the matter and brief Counsel and handle the matter appropriately. It occurs to me that clearly it is not in the Client’s bests interests at this late stage for a new Attorney to enter the litigation. It seems to me that there would be an ethical duty on both the new Attorney and me to apprise the Client of the pitfalls he faces should he change Attorneys at this advanced stage and that it is not in the Client’s best interests to do so. If on being apprised of these consequences the Client is insistent on changing Attorneys ten he must suffer the consequences of his choice.
I would be most interested to hear the viewpoint of colleagues on this issue
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