Saturday, 19 February 2011

Malaysians tells Bar Council to explain exorbitant fees increase

More news on the Malaysian Public unhappiness to the Bar Council proposal to up lawyer fees to 400%:

Foundation calls on Bar to explain ‘exorbitant’ increase

TheStar 19 Feb.2011
KUALA LUMPUR: The Bar Council must justify what it meant by workload and responsibilities when it announced that lawyers’ fees for court cases were expected to increase between 300% and 400%, said Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
Describing the increase as being exorbitant, he said, consumers should open up a public discussion on the issue as very few could afford such an increase.
“Putting myself as a consumer looking forward to legal services frequently, it would be a very steep increase,” he said.
Lee was commenting on a statement by council president Ragunath Kesavan that lawyers’ fees for court cases were expected to increase due to increased responsibilities.
He added that while the legal fraternity could have its own reasons for quoting high fees, it should be justified and given a reasonable fee schedule.
Fomca chief executive officer Datuk Paul Selva Raj said the proposed hike was too sharp, adding that the consumer’s welfare should be taken into account when deciding on the new rates.
“Legal service must be affordable for clients and it’s not supposed to be an obstacle. Where is the justice when this kind of increase takes place?” he asked. 
Read the rest here.
While we cannot divorce lawyers from our life, be it in business, family, criminal or civil proceedings then again lawyers who becomes advocates and solicitors are there to serve the people first and make money second isn't it. The Malaysian Courts have been made more efficient with all the sophisticated IT technology in place, efficiency means lower cost and more jobs/cases for the lawyers to take up. 
The higher number of cases should instead be translated into economies of scale, maybe asking for the lawyer fees which are already high to come down is too much but considering inflation maybe incremental hike of 10% is not so bad and that also depends on what type of cases. For instance, if its only preparation of House loans or house purchase Agreements which are standard forms, is it fair to hike the rates for these kind of standard agreements? I don't think so.
The Bar Council should also address the cases/complaints of lawyers not giving the best to their client and doing other jobs such as selling land besides being an advocate and solicitor. I hope the AG and the Government who would ultimately approve the lawyer fees increase, get feedback from the public or have a forum on its merits and demerits.
Certainly the Bar Council must take into account the feelings and income of their customers who in the majority are not that well to do, before they resort to high fees hike OR we Malaysian customers could have this perception every time we are about to enter the lawyer's office:
Lawyer's Office
The image could prove difficult to be undone. Thank You.

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