Hack attacks, ransom threats and theft of money through fraudulent transactions are all becoming a stark reality for legal professionals and law firms around the world, says a legal risk adviser.

A Fin24 report notes Samantha Varela, of Aon SA, said conveyancing attorneys specifically are in the sights of cyber criminals.

The Legal Practitioners’ Fidelity Fund, for instance, has been notified of at least 110 cyber-scam related claims worth more than R70m since July 2016.

In a recent case reported on, the sellers of a property approached the court for an order that the conveyancing firm be held liable for their losses after they fell victim to a cyber scam.

Scammers posed as the sellers and instructed the conveyancers via e-mail to transfer the proceeds from the sale of their property to a different account. It turned out to be a fraudulent account and the sellers lost just under R270 000.

‘The case was dismissed, with the judge stating that – despite the fact that the conveyancers did not pay the money into the sellers' account – their failure to do so was not due to their negligence,’ said Varela.

‘From this case, we can clearly see that the allegation of negligence based on a cyber attack is incredibly difficult to prove and leaves all parties severely compromised.’

Full Fin24 report

See ‘Businessman, law firm battle over R970 000 hack’