THE FACTS

Sithembile Khumalo from the Joburg CBD transferred R559 000 into her attorney’s trust account for a house she wanted to buy.

But a month later she saw a post on Facebook saying the firm had been liquidated.

She contacted the Law Society of South Africa, which said according to its records the firm hadn’t been liquidated.

She was advised to contact the owner of the firm. She called them many times. She even sent the lawyer messages, but he never replied.

Even the agent who introduced her to the attorney wasn’t willing to help.

THE ADVICE

Depending on Sithembile’s contract, when buying a house the deposit can either be paid to an estate agent or a conveyancer appointed to handle the transfer.

The money will be in a trust account and she should be issued with a receipt. If it’s a transfer, payment should be done a few weeks after the sale and signing of documents as the conveyancer will expect payment for transfer duties.

In the Legal Practice Act, the code of conduct requires that an attorney informs his clients should he move office.

She has an option to cancel the mandate. She can also lodge a complaint about the attorney with the law society.