Watchdogs have begun to bare their teeth against lawyers who "buy" lucrative conveyancing work. Such practices between attorneys and property agents cheat consumers because:
- Home buyers lose the freedom to choose their own attorney;
- Attorneys linked to agents forfeit their independence and compromise their duty to advise their clients impartially;
- Companies that pay backhanders can't afford to offer discounts to their clients;
- The huge volumes of work generated for a few law firms by backhanders compromise their work and service standards; and
- The few law firms that can afford to pay backhanders can corner the conveyancing market.
Durban attorney Gavin Gow, spokesman for Conveyancers for the Citizens - an anti-corruption pressure group representing 60 law firms across South Africa - said he was pleased with the penalties handed down so far.