GEORGE NEWS - Following a couple of articles about a female lawyer of George who is accused of unlawfully using clients' funds for herself, another local female attorney claims her reputation has suffered as a result of the articles as people are apparently confusing her with the attorney under investigation.
The attorney who is being investigated by the Hawks as well as by the Cape Law Society, allegedly failed to pay out R250 000 to a local man whose wife she represented in court.
She also allegedly failed to pay out R87 000 to a local teacher following the sale of a property in which she was handling the transfer. Another woman claims that she should have received R18 000 after her property had been sold on auction as part of a divorce settlement.
The George Herald has been advised not to publish the lawyer in question's name as she has not been charged.
The following statement was released by Soapbox Communications to clear up any instance of mistaken identity:
A news story that has appeared in the George Herald recently concerning an attorney accused of defrauding clients, has left another attorney suffering the brunt of the damage.
Some people have assumed that Kate Smith Hemmings (Smith Hemmings Attorneys) – an attorney with no involvement in the pu-blicised case - is the attorney under investigation, and she has lost clients and prospective clients thanks to this misconception. Smith Hemmings's field of specialisation lies within divorce and commercial law.
Smith Hemmings said, "People are assuming it is me as my name is similar to the accused attorney and we are both young female attorneys and although my work requires me to be in Cape Town a lot of the time, my practise remains in George and therefore we are both essentially practising in this relatively small town. I have lost clients and my reputation has suffered enormously.
"I want to officially and publicly declare to the people of George that I have no involvement in the publicised case whatsoever, that I have not defrauded clients and that I am not under investigation."
Renowned Cape Town based Advocate Theo Barnard, who is known for his successful career as an advocate, practices both nationally and internationally and has been working closely with Smith Hemmings. He has also vouched for her good reputation.
"Kate is an outstanding and reputable attorney," said Advocate Barnard. "She has independently built up a successful practice and her knowledge and skill continues to impress me. Kate is not under investigation and that people have assumed so is a very unfortunate mistake. I have worked with her closely and I am still involved with her matters and will gladly vouch for her. She has suffered unnecessarily for this misunderstanding and I hope this will clear it up."