South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal has overturned a High Court ruling that held Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS) lawyers liable for R5.5-million (US $270,000) stolen by fraudsters from an elderly client.

Judith Hawarden, who intended to buy property, argued that her money was taken by criminals who manipulated emails from one of the law firm’s employees. But ENS said Hawarden was negligent and argued that it is the debtor’s responsibility to ensure that money is paid into the right account.