GroundUp, in its court papers filed in the Gauteng High Court, alleges that the statutory body, created in 2018 to govern the legal profession, has failed in its duties.
Editor Nathan Geffen wants the court to set aside a decision by the LPC’s investigating committee, dismissing a misconduct complaint GroundUP laid against attorney Lesley Ramulifho and to order that the complaint be investigated properly.
Geffen says, in his affidavit, that the complaint against Ramulifho related to four instances of alleged dishonesty in statements he made under oath, in court proceedings in which he attempted to compel GroundUp to remove a series of articles, in which he was implicated in the misuse of funds from the national lottery.
The urgent application was struck from the roll for lack of urgency and the matter has not been set down again as yet.
But GroundUp laid a formal complaint with the LPC, alleging that the attorney had used “falsified'' or “fabricated” documents - including two affidavits, two proof of payments and a bank statement. It also alleged that he had committed perjury.
Geffen said the complaint was “extensive” - a 16 page affidavit and 100 pages of annexures.
“By contrast, Ramulifho’s reply ran to a mere two pages. He made no attempt to address the substance or veracity of the complaint.”
In August last year, the complaint was referred to the LPC’s investigating committee.
In October, GroundUp was informed that the complaint had been dismissed because the conduct “did not warrant misconduct proceedings”, saying the conduct complained of was not done in Ramulfho’s professional capacity and that he had “given a reasonable explanation”.
GroundUp lodged an internal appeal but was advised in November that an appeal tribunal had not yet been established and “ we should proceed with an appeal or review process in the high court, should we wish to do so”.
Geffen says the LPC plays an important role in society to ensure that the public is protected from unscrupulous practitioners.
“Where a complaint is made, it is obliged to undertake a proper investigation and this requires the investigating committee to be proactive. It cannot just sit back and wait for conclusive proof to be presented to it. It has substantial investigative powers and it is obliged to use them,” he said.
The LPC and the attorney have not yet filed opposing papers.
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