Unfair to pin blame on lawyers


  • Letters
  • Sunday, 24 Jun 2007

WE REFER to the letter “Bar Council must act against tardy lawyers” (The Star, June 20) by Darshan Singh, National Consumer Com-plaints Centre. 

Firstly, delays in the completion of sale and purchase transactions could be due to many factors, and are not necessarily the fault of lawyers or developers. 

Delays could also be due to time taken by a financier in releasing the loan sum as well as tardiness on the part of the purchaser in complying with the sale, purchase and financing requirements.  

Secondly, the common completion period is 3+1 (months) and not 2+1 (months).  

If it is a conditional agreement, the three months do not start to run until the conditions precedent has been fulfilled. 

In fact, the period of completion is a matter for the parties to negotiate and agree upon, and it is not proper for the Bar Council to intervene in and restrict the parties’ freedom to contract.  

Thirdly, it is not true that consumers are not allowed to choose their own lawyers.  

In this respect, the Bar Council has done much and taken great pains on countless occasions to educate consumers on their right to choose their own lawyer and to have separate legal representation. 

However, we regret to note that consumers are more attracted by free legal packages and in doing so, they have unwittingly given up their right to choose their own lawyers. This is one area we hope Darshan’s organisation can help create awareness among the public.  

As regards the issue of excessive contingency fees, the Bar Council has taken cognisance of the matter and is presently looking into the possibility of allowing charging of contingency fees but on a regulated basis. 

The Ad-Hoc Committee to review the Legal Profession Act and the Legal Profession Committee of the Bar Council have been assigned the task of studying the matter and proposing the necessary measures to regulate the imposition of contingency fees.  

The requirement for lawyers to enter into a contingency fees agreement before contingency fees could be imposed is one of the measures proposed.  

Such an agreement is required to be in writing in a format prescribed by the Bar Council incorporating a number of safeguards to protect the interests of the clients.  

It is also proposed that there be an upper limit cap to the amount of contingency fees chargeable.  

The maximum amount presently being considered is an amount not exceeding 25% of the amount awarded to the client in the proceedings concerned.  

The Bar Council wishes to assure the public that it is always endeavouring to maintain and protect the standards of conduct of the legal profession whilst at the same protecting the public interest in all matters pertaining to the law.  

 

ROGER TAN,  

Chair, Conveyancing Practice Committee, 

NG KONG PENG,  

Chair, Legal Profession Committee,  

BAR COUNCIL, MALAYSIA.  

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