The North Gauteng High Court will deliver judgment in the matter early next week and it will be bound by a earlier Constitutional Court judgment that RBP’s fee structure is unlawful as it charges more than the limits set in the Contingency Fees Act.
In his audit report, chartered accountant Vincent Faris found sufficient evidence of contraventions of the income tax, VAT, companies, and attorney’s acts, as well as the rules of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces (LSNP).
Matthew Graham was brain damaged in a September 2006 car accident. His wife Jennifer then had retained the services of RBP to process the claim against the Road Accident Fund (RAF).
The Grahams then took RBP to the North Gauteng High Court to challenge the legitimacy of RBP’s contingency fee structure. The Faris report was among documents submitted to the court as supporting documents.
Faris also states that RBP’s ledger account does not reconcile with the amounts that were eventually paid to the Grahams.
Asked for comment, RBP senior partner Ronald Bobroff – a former president of the LSNP – said: “RBP submitted a comprehensive response to the Law Society on Faris’s report. If and when the Law Society asks for any further explanation we will reply to the Law Society. We are not prepared to engage in public debate.”
Bobroff said RBP’s tax affairs were in order. He pointed out that Faris’s report found that RBP’s books were adequately narrated. Bobroff questioned Faris’s impartiality and linked the commissioning of the report to an apparent vendetta of Discovery Health against his firm.
The LSNP said it was awaiting the judgment in the Graham matter before proceeding with a disciplinary inquiry against Bobroff and his son, Darren.
Matthew Graham’s statement of account
The report states that the RAF paid the capital amount (R1 979 953) to RBP in March 2010. The RAF also paid the costs contribution (payment towards legal costs) of R293 370 in two tranches in 2010. Two weeks after the capital payment was received, Bobroff issued a RBP cheque for R758 000 from his trust account, referenced “Bidvest Bank – Interim”. This payment is especially contentious, as the Grahams never received this money.
Faris also stated that the most alarming difference between RBP and the Grahams’ accounts is that RBP’s ledger account did not reflect the fee he charged the Grahams (R738 045) and VAT (R103 326). Faris says this seems to suggest the payment of R758 000 to the Bidvest Bank account was related to the absence of a fee charged in RBF’s ledger account. “On its face, the entry is suspicious and requires investigation,” Faris states.
Bobroff responded to the law society regarding the Faris report that the entry relating to Bidvest Bank was an administrative error.
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