Hi there,8 years ago I was on holiday with a friend and was arrested for shoplifting. We were told t…

Hi there,

8 years ago I was on holiday with a friend and was arrested for shoplifting. We were told that we can go home and don’t have to appear in court if we pay a fine. Being absolutely terrified and having no knowledge of the process, I paid the fine not being made aware that it will result in a criminal record.

4 years ago I realised I have something on my name and approached a law center, Fresh Start Law, to review my case and possibly have the record removed. They said that my case has good merits for an application to be sent to the high court to set the record aside as procedure following up to the admission of guilt fine weren’t followed. I needed to pay an additional R14500 for an attorney to draft this application for the high court.

I paid the monies in April 2017, the application was drafted and, according to them, sent to the high court. That was the end of it though. Communications and updated started to slow down and eventually I stopped receiving updates and feedback, and the caseworkers stopped responding to my emails or taking my call requests. I once visited their offices unexpectedly and was told that my application must have gotten lost at the high court and they will apply again. The stopped communicating with me, ignore any attempts of communication from my side and have not resolved the issue I paid for. After more than a year of Fresh Start Law completely ignoring me when I try to contact them, reaching out to Cape Talk, a consumer journalist and the CEO of Fresh Start Law, I have given up on trying to get my name cleared using the services of this company.

I have appointed a new lawyer in the meantime to help me with my legal issue. I would like to go to the small claims court to get my money back from Fresh Start Law. Is it possible for me to claim from this company? Do I have a case? If yes, how should I approach the company with the initial request for a refund?

Thank you for your assistance and time.

Karin

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