Two attorneys who were ordered to compensate a client R1.7m plus interest after all parties became the victims of cybercrime plan to appeal the judgment.

Rapport says the law firm of Nicola van der Spuy and Ludwig de Jongh transferred the funds held on behalf of client André Fourie to a criminal after believing Fourie had instructed them to make payments. This was on the strength of apparent e-mails from Fourie, but it later emerged that Fourie’s e-mail account had been hacked.

The lawyers insist they were not negligent and had received updated banking details from ‘Fourie’.

Acting Judge Matthew Klein, of the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria), held that the lawyers had a duty to verify that the e-mail indeed came from Fourie.

William Tintinger, Fourie’s attorney, says damages claims due to cybercrime are generally not covered by the Fidelity Fund.

It is expected from legal practitioners to speak to a client in person to confirm the veracity of bank account details. The original confirmation of bank details must be provided to the lawyer.

The Law Society of SA issued guidelines on cybercrime in September, urging attorneys to take out insurance against cybercrime and to continuously train staff.

Full report in Rapport (subscription needed)