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Lawyers probed over millions due to disabled children

A total of 14 lawyers are now being investigated by the Legal Practice Council (LPC) over multimillion-rand settlements due to children left severely disabled by state negligence, the complaints first being lodged early last year.

LPC spokesperson Kabelo Letebele told News24 it was probing Eastern Cape Health Department complaints that the lawyers had not met court deadlines to establish trusts to manage the millions paid out to the claimants in major medical negligence claims.

Although he did not say why it had taken so long for the LPC to act, he added that several of the matters were tentatively due to be heard on 14 September.

The investigations – which also require the lawyers involved to provide details of how much they charged their often desperately poor clients – reveal several instances where the lawyers defied court orders by failing to set up trusts for the settlements, many of which were more than R15m.

In other instances, they delayed for months or even years to set up these trusts, raising questions about where the settlement money was kept and for what purpose.

Earlier this year, TV programme Carte Blanche exposed how fraud-accused attorney Zuko Nonxuba, who received more than R500m in medical negligence settlements for the children he represented, allegedly only paid a tiny fraction of these settlements to the mothers.

One mother had not received a cent for her child, who had been awarded a more than R14m settlement while being represented by Nonxuba.

The LPC has also asked some of the lawyers to confirm whether or not they had a contingency fee agreement with their clients and, in addition, whether they complied with the provisions of the Contingency Fees Act that seek to ensure successful plaintiffs cannot be fleeced by their lawyers.

The complaints against the lawyers emanate from an Eastern Cape Health Department investigation into the R3.4bn in medico-legal negligence payouts made by the province between April 2014 and March 2021.

That investigation was initiated because of an escalation in medical negligence claims, which was exacerbated by the province's notoriously poor record-keeping.

 

News24 article – EXCLUSIVE | 14 lawyers under investigation over millions due to severely disabled children (Restricted access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Court grants R16m and free medical care in Eastern Cape negligence case

 

Attorney barred after making millions from dubious medical negligence claims

 

Eastern Cape Health boosts legal teams to fight bogus medical claims

 

Attorney facing criminal charges and disbarment wins more negligence claims

 

 

 

 

 

 

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