By choosing to continue, you are consenting to the use and functioning of this site as is in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

find an article




02 Jul 2024
BY Aslam Moosajee AND Zameer Omar

SCA rules that attorneys cannot interdict clients from terminating their mandate

In the case of Pitso and Others v Chabeli Molatoli Attorneys Incorporated, the Supreme Court of Appeal (“the SCA”) held that attorneys cannot interdict their clients from terminating their mandate.


Prior to the passing of the deceased, Mr Pisto (“the deceased”) on 15 November 2021, legal advice was sought from Molatoli Attorneys. The attorneys assisted the deceased’s widow, Mrs Pisto, in reporting the estate to the Master of the High Court. On 18 November 2021, the attorneys and Mrs Pisto concluded an agreement, in terms of which, if Mrs Pisto was appointed to be the executrix of the deceased’s estate, the attorneys would be entitled to charge a fee of 3.5% of the estate.  

On 30 December 2021, the Master issued a letter of executorship appointing Mrs Pisto as the executrix of the deceased estate. The attorneys sent Mrs Pisto an interim invoice for services rendered. This interim invoice was for more than 60% of the total funds available.   

Mrs Pisto terminated the mandate of the attorneys on 28 April 2022.

Findings in the High Court

Following the termination of the mandate, the attorneys launched an urgent application in the High Court. The attorneys sought an order declaring the termination of the mandate to be invalid and also requested an interdict to restrain Mrs Pisto from terminating the mandate.

Makhoba J struck the attorney’s application from the roll for a lack of urgency. The matter then came before Ndlokovane AJ, on the ordinary motion roll who then granted the interdict.

The SCA’s findings

The SCA found the application to be misconceived, referring to the case of Liberty Life Group Ltd and Others v Mall Space Management CC t/a Mall Space Management which reiterated the principle that it is against public policy to order a principal to retain the services of his agent.

The court emphasised that an interdict was an inappropriate remedy on the facts. The attorney’s remedies lay in a claim for damages. This alternative relief meant that the attorneys did not satisfy the requirement for an interdict, namely, that no alternative relief was available. 


The appropriate remedy to seek upon the termination of a mandate is specific performance for fees accrued up to the date of termination of the mandate or a claim for damages. An interdict cannot be sought to restrain a client from terminating the mandate of an attorney.


Aslam Moosajee  

Executive | Dispute Resolution

Zameer Omar   

Candidate Legal Practitioner | Dispute Resolution