Complaints about advocates

Professional ethics

Advocates are obliged to maintain the highest standards of ethics and professional integrity when rendering their services.

All advocates of the Cape Bar are required to conduct their work in accordance with the General Council of the Bar’s Uniform Rules of Professional Ethics.

Advocates of the Cape Bar are subject to the Cape Bar’s disciplinary processes, as well as those of the General Council of the Bar of South Africa.  These bodies can impose sanctions on advocates, but do not have the power to prevent an advocate from practising.

Ultimately, if an advocate (including an advocate that is not a member of the Cape Bar) is guilty of unprofessional conduct that is of such a serious nature so as to render them unfit to practise, the courts may “strike” them from the roll of advocates, preventing them from practising in future.

The Cape Bar’s guidelines for disciplinary enquiries are available here.

Lodging a complaint 

  • Note: the Cape Bar can only determine complaints that concern its members.
  • Complaints against advocates should be lodged in writing, specifying the nature of the conduct complained of; the name; surname; physical address; postal address; and email address (if available) of both the complainant and the advocate complained against.
  • Written complaints can be hand-delivered, emailed or faxed (depending on the size) to the Cape Bar’s offices.  The Cape Bar’s contact details are available here.
  • The Cape Bar will only investigate complaints against advocates practising in the Western Cape.
  • Complaints are not considered during court recess.


  • As from 1 November 2018, all complaints against non-member advocates will no longer be considered by the Cape Bar.
  • In terms of section 4 of the Legal Practice Act, Act No. 28 of 2014, all complaints will be considered by the Legal Practice Council. You are therefore requested to lodge your complaint with the Legal Practice Council.  Their details are available here