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S.Africa banks to allow their law firms to act for customers against them

Some of South Africa's top banks have agreed to scrap clauses that prevented their law firms from representing customers in real estate disputes with the banks, the country's competition regulator said on Friday.

July 17 (Reuters) - Some of South Africa's top banks have agreed to scrap clauses that prevented their law firms from representing customers in real estate disputes with the banks, the country's competition regulator said on Friday.

The watchdog said Standard Bank SBKJ.J, Investec, FNB and Nedbank Group Ltd NEDJ.J had agreed to remove such clauses from their contracts with law firms.

Most South African banks take legal advice for mortgage and property transactions - known as conveyancing services - and have insisted the law firms should not represent anyone against the bank on such matters.

This has reduced choice for consumers if they wanted to sue a bank over a property related matter, potentially putting them at a disadvantage against the banks.

"...it was agreed that contractual clauses that prevented law firms appointed to provide conveyancing services from acting against the banks on any matter should be removed," the competition commission said in a statement.

(Reporting by Promit Mukherjee in Johannesburg and Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)

((abyjose.koilparambil@thomsonreuters.com; +91 (0)8061822683;))

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