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Analysis: Time for Judge Hlophe to face the music

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe has found himself the focus of a searing SCA judgment handed down last week with regard to his conduct in another matter involving the alleged theft of R48-million by a businessman. The man was represented in court by the same attorney representing Hlophe in pending disciplinary proceedings before the Judicial Services Commission over allegations that the Judge President approached two Justices of the Constitutional Court in 2008 in an attempt to improperly influence that court’s pending judgment in a case involving Jacob Zuma. Hlophe was excoriated by the SCA for potential bias in ruling in favour of the crooked businessman.

JSC studying SCA's Hlophe bias judgment

The JSC says it is studying the SCA judgment – first reported in Legalbrief Today last week – which linked the Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe to a ‘reasonable apprehension’ of bias when ruling in favour of his personal lawyer in a multi-million lawsuit.

Bias claims raised against Hlophe

Controversial Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe is back in the spotlight following his contested handling of a High Court matter involving allegations of a multi-mi llion rand fraud. One side in the dispute claimed they had a ‘reasonable apprehension’ that the judge was biased against them. And the SCA has now set aside Hlophe’s disputed orders and findings, agreeing that, given his behaviour, this ‘apprehension’ was justified, notes leading legal writer Carmel Rickard in a report on the Legalbrief Today site.

Directors and the “Delinquency” Danger

Directors face many challenges, not least amongst them the constant danger of being held personally liable for any failure to comply with their statutory duties. In addition to facing civil claims for losses sustained, and even possible criminal liability, directors risk being declared “delinquent”.

Attorney billing judgment to be appealed

Judge Neil Tuchten, of the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria), has handed down an important judgment confirming the basis on which an attorney may bill a client, according to a report by Tony Beamish on the Moneyweb site. The case was brought by Cadac CEO Simon Nash and his company Midmacor Industries (Midmacor) against pension fund curator, Tony Mostert, his law firm AL Mostert & Co, the Financial Services Board (FSB), and the Registrar of Pension Funds.

'Lawyer' with three identities struck off

A Cape Town lawyer accused of stealing millions from insolvent estates has lost his robes – which he may not have been legally entitled to in the first place, according to a Sunday Times report. The man, who goes by three names – Patel Muhamed, Mohamed Ismail and Muhamed Ismail Patel – could also soon find himself in the dock to answer to fraud charges. He is accused of contriving his qualifications by assuming the identity of lawyer Patel Muhamed, who died in 2006, and duping the High Court into admitting him as an attorney in 2011.

Bobroff estates provisionally sequestrated

The Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) this week placed the estates of personal injury lawyers Ronald and Darren Bobroff under provisional sequestration, according to a report by investigative journalist Tony Beamish on the Moneyweb site. It notes the father and son duo are fugitives from justice who fled to Australia last March when the Hawks requested that they hand themselves over to be arrested.

Drunk-driving judge's argument flawed

The JSC has dismissed claims by drunk-driving judge Nkola Motata that the tribunal it appointed to help discipline him is unlawful. Motata has been on special leave since he crashed his Jaguar into the wall of a Johannesburg home in 2007 while drunk and is challenging the JSC’s disciplinary structures in the Constitutional Court, notes a TimesLIVE report.

Cape judge recuses himself amid racism claims

Western Cape High Court Judge Leslie Weinkove has recused himself from one of the high-profile cases he had been presiding over. A Cape Argus report says Weinkove – who is presiding over the ongoing contentious Bromwell Street eviction saga – came under fire after he made what had been deemed racist remarks in court last month. Weinkove questioned the evicted residents’ request to be close to crucial amenities when they are eventually forced to vacate Woodstock.

Bobroffs abused knowledge of court procedures

Personal injury lawyers Ronald and Darren Bobroff abused their knowledge of court procedures to effectively prevent the court from examining their misconduct. This is one of the key reasons a full Bench at the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) decided the father and son duo, both directors of Ronald Bobroff and Partners (RBP), should be struck off the roll of attorneys in December last year, according to a Tony Beamish report on the Moneyweb site.

Right to die issue a job for Parliament – SCA

The terminally will not be able to approach the courts and ask for the right to die after the SCA upheld the government's appeal against a High Court judgment in which euthanasia advocate Robin Stransham-Ford won the right to doctor-assisted suicide last year‚ but died two hours before the ruling was given.

Race quotas ruled unlawful by SCA

The SCA has found a racial quota policy implemented for the appointment of liquidators to be unlawful and invalid. It ruled on Friday that an appeal against a finding of its unconstitutionality be ‘dismissed with costs,’ upholding the High Court’s finding of the policy as ‘unconstitutional and irrational’ as well as ‘unlawful and invalid’, notes a News24 report.

‘Extraordinary’ complaint filed with Society of Advocates

What an amaBhungane report calls an ‘extraordinary’ complaint has been lodged with the KZN Society of Advocates against Nalini Govender, a member of the Durban Bar who has also served as a magistrate in the province. A local bond originator, Suchu Pillay, alleges that Govender disclosed to him in mid-2015 that she had received more than R500 000 from ‘Mpisane’, which he understood to refer to the husband-and-wife team of Sbu and Shauwn Mpisane.

Dodgy lawyers stealing millions from clients

Dodgy lawyers are stealing hundreds of millions from their clients by looting trust accounts, claims a Sunday Times report. It says Peter Cowling and Christiaan Janeke are the latest lawyers to be struck off the roll, and are facing criminal charges for allegedly stealing at least R65m from their clients, many of whom were pensioners.

Lawyer accused of 'hijacking' farming business

Land reform beneficiaries in Limpopo are accusing their lawyer of hijacking their multimillion-rand farming project, notes a City Press report. The beneficiaries of the R61.4m Zebediela Citrus Estate in Limpopo allege prominent lawyer Tumi Mokwena got a stake in their business through the back door. Mokwena, who represented EFF leader Julius Malema in his tax trial, came to Zebediela Citrus as a lawyer last year to represent the 1 500 beneficiaries when they were fighting the removal of a strategic partner, Henley Property Management.

Businessman plans R20m suit against newspaper

Durban businessman Vivian Reddy plans to sue a Johannesburg newspaper and cartoonist for defamation amounting to R20m. It follows recent reports that a company owned by his son Shantan Reddy had won a R171m contract linked to the country’s planned nuclear programme, notes the Sunday Tribune. The company is Central Lake Trading 149 and trades as Empire Technology.

Minister asked to intervene in land sale dispute

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti has been called on to intervene in a conflict involving land worth more than R600m awarded 15 years ago to people forcefully removed from Ndabeni, near Pinelands, Cape Town, says a Weekend Argus report. Concerns have been raised over the sale of land for far less than its value and that the trustees did not have the mandate to sell the land.

Mother who stole from law firm gets reprieve

A single mother of three children who admitted stealing more than R400 000 from her employer has won the first fight in her battle to stay out of prison, notes a TimesLIVE report. Moshina Essop was sentenced in the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court to 10 years' imprisonment but only half the sentence was suspended‚ and yesterday the SCA gave her permission to appeal to the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg).

Government's Constitutional Court losses mounting up

This week’s victory for suspended Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) executive director Robert McBride in the Constitutional Court is the latest in several cases the government has lost before the court in recent months, according to a TimesLIVE report. Before the latest judgment‚ the court in March ruled that the failure by President Jacob Zuma to comply with the remedial action ordered against him by the Public Protector concerning the improvements at his Nkandla home was inconsistent with the Constitution.

Confusion in court on judge’s retirement

The Eastern Cape High Court (East London) was meant to hear the rape and murder case of Sakhumzi Mhlamvana, a matter set down for the whole week before Judge Lusindiso Pakade (68). But The Herald reports after waiting for hours yesterday for the judge to arrive, officials were finally told that he had resigned.

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