PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has urged chambering students to report against their pupil masters if they are forced to illegally solicit clients at the Magistrate’s Court.
“Chambering students are allowed to accompany their pupil master to court, but they are not permitted to seek out potential clients or make attempts to secure cases for their pupil masters.
“They are reminded to uphold their integrity and to not act in a manner that can bring the legal profession into disrepute.
“The Malaysian Bar stresses that pupils are not to be used as tools to carry out unethical or prohibited actions on behalf of law firms,” its president Salim Bashir said in a statement yesterday.
Salim said these chambering students could report against their pupil masters to the Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board (ASDB) or to inform the Bar Council or State Bar committees if they were forced by their pupil masters to tout “even if it means that they will be asked to leave the firm and continue their pupillage elsewhere”.
The Star, quoting senior criminal lawyers, reported on Thursday that some legal firms had asked their chambering students to stake out at courthouses and scout for potential clients.
Salim made clear that touting amounts to professional misconduct as outlined in Section 94(3)(h) of the Legal Profession Act and Rule 51 of the Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978.
“A member can face various sanctions if found to be in breach of these rules, including being suspended from practice or struck off the Roll.
“Pupils who are found to be engaged in touting could potentially be prohibited from being called to the Bar following any complaints of a disciplinary nature,” he said.
The Malaysian Bar, he said, had consistently denounced touting.
“We have sought to discourage and stamp out touting by, among others, lodging complaints with the ASDB against such members of the Bar,” he said.
Salim called for the authorities to investigate the matter, while urging the public to report these cases to the ASDB.
He said the public must insist on receipts whenever they make payments to law firms.
“They can also verify a lawyer’s credentials as an advocate and solicitor with the recently launched Digital Membership Card by the Malaysian Bar,” he said.
Salim said the Bar Council, through the State Bar Committees, regularly engage with the courts and other authorities to address touting.
“However, due to the complexity and prevalence of touting in certain spheres of legal practice, such efforts may not be sufficient.
“The Malaysian Bar calls on the assistance and involvement of everyone to report such incidences to the ASDB or the Bar Council so that we are aware and can take the necessary steps,” he said.
Salim added that there had been incidents in the past where action was taken by the police which led to the touts being charged in court.
“Justice cannot be administered fairly if there are unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of the public,” he said.