Bar Council: Market-driven fees ‘unfair’ to housebuyers

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 04 Nov 2004


PETALING JAYA: A market-driven fee scale will not benefit the public as a lawyer is hired based on how cheap his fee is and not on whether he is the best person for the job, Bar Council vice-chairman Yeo Yang Poh said. 

“If you have unchecked discounting, it tilts the market in a very disproportionate manner towards using this one criterion,” Yeo said. 

He was responding to a statement by the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Malaysia (Rehda) that the “no discount” ruling would force both housebuyers and developers to pay more. 

He said that in the present market trend, many developers would dictate to the housebuyers which lawyer was to act for them “on the incentive that the developer would pay the fees.” 

“The question is, knowing what human tendencies are, will a developer try his best to engage someone who practises the highest professional standards to protect housebuyers? 

“Or, will he get someone who would bend the rule and quote the lowest fee?  

“Even worse if the developer gets someone who is willing to overlook his duty to look after the buyer if a conflict of interest arises,” Yeo said. 

He, however, added that not all developers would condone such dodgy acts. 

Yeo also said the Bar Council viewed the present so-called market-driven trend of charging fees as not good for the protection of consumers. 

“If you think objectively about it, isn’t there something fundamentally wrong for a person, who is supposed to protect consumers, to be on the payroll of the developer?” he asked. 

He said the council had resorted to enforcing the12-year-old subsidiary rule of the Solicitors Remuneration Order (SRO) 1991 because it did not want the current situation to worsen. 

The SRO prescribes the scale of fees for conveyancing transactions and forbids lawyers from giving discounts, except for transactions below RM100,000.  

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