Thursday, February 04, 2010

Overcharging by lawyer

There was a case of a lawyer who overcharged the client on handling a divorce matter. The client complained to the Law Soceity. The lawyer agreed that the fee should be $X and that he had billed the client for more than twice the amount. What can be done to deal with this type of issue?


Anonymous said...

Many charges are given as an estimate. The finalized figure can be quite a different from the estimate. The service providers would argue that they have given only an estimate.
This applies seeing a doctor in the hospital. KKH has increased its consultation fee from $23 to $25 from 1 Feb. Was it mentioned in the papers?

Anonymous said...

The law society and the medical council are very strict with their members but not MAS.Even the property agent body is strict too now.Why? Insurance agents are committing malpractices EVERY DAY and yet no policing and disciplinary actions taken against them. Their malpractices are NO SECRET, blatantly committed and yet MAS finds it 'powerless' to charge them. Is it becuase there are too many cases of malpractices or is it MAS is concerned about the interest of its benefactors.
I am losing my confidence in this so called regulator.

C H Yak said...

At present, the client has no control over what his lawyer would charge him. The lawyer just set-off from the accounts by himself.

Despite poor management of the case and litigation which may prejudice a hearing, a lawyer can still claim and pay himself excessively.

How could Singapore become a hub for international arbitration when potential clients know about this cost issue?

Even in accident cases involving a pedestrain who is seriously injured, and the fees must be approved by the PTO, the claim process is still biased against the Client. A lawyer can still submit an excessive claim by writing his claim with general statements to the PTO for substantiation, the PTO would not check with the Client but simply approve it by themselves.

A lawyer could claim much higher than what the Court would normally award for Solicitor and Client costs, and the PTO would simply approve without reference to the Client.

Although there is a route for complaints, it is not worthwhile considering more legal costs and time.

This is the real "legal trap" on costs.

How could Singapore become an international hub for arbitration when clients know about this potential cost issue and hurdle?

I support Mr Tan's call for "contingency fees" approach which is fairer. Lawyers should answer immediately for a lack of legal incompetency, and not through future loss of clients and business.

Anonymous said...

I support "contingency fees" approach. No cure, no pay.

This allows the poor and lesser educated a chance to avail themselves to legal protection and services.

Current legal fee structure means that only the rich have access to legal protection.

Anonymous said...

"Current legal fee structure means that only the rich have access to legal protection."
isn't this the norm? You have $$, you CAN turn black to white.
If you have no $$, then NO talk.

Anonymous said...

"Contingency fee" approach is not allowed in Singapore, only allow in US. It is amounting to Ambulance chasing.

Anonymous said...

I refer to Anon: 5.33pm

"Contingency fee" approach is not allowed in Singapore, only allow in US. It is amounting to Ambulance chasing."

This summarises the problem with Singaporeans.

- "not allowed in Singapore"
- who is Singapore?
- Singapore is you and me
- we decide through the democratic process what is allowable.

- "ambulance chasing"
- what is valid is whether there has been an injustice
- I have no issues with contingency fees.
- the free market will naturally destroy "ambulance chasing" practices if there was not a legally valid case in the first place.

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