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Unbecoming Conduct: Lawyers Touting

almost 7 years ago fadzel





This article is for general informational purposes only and is not meant to be used or construed as legal advice in any manner whatsoever. All articles have been scrutinized by a practicing lawyer to ensure accuracy.



Lawyers touting for clients

Today, the National Legal Aid Foundation (YGBK) has hit out at lawyers who employ touts to get clients. Touting is prohibited under the Legal Profession Act 1976 (LPA).

Ravi Neeko, chairman of the YGBK Steering Committee, said that it is “major menace” to legal practice. Ravi also pointed out that the main motivation behind touting was monetary gain. He further added that lawyers who employed touts are more interested in money than in their clients’ interests, taking advantage of people who are in a helpless state.

The touts would target naive members of the public with little knowledge in court matters and procedures by introducing them to lawyers.

What are the rules on touting for lawyers?

Rules on touting

Lawyers in Malaysia are not allowed to pay or hire someone to introduce clients to them, The Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978 lays down the law on touting:

Rule 51. Advocate and Solicitor not to do or cause touting

An advocate and solicitor shall not do or cause or allow to be done, anything for the purpose of touting directly or indirectly, or which is calculated to suggest that it is done for that purpose.

Rule 52. No division of costs or profits with unqualified person

It is unprofessional and improper conduct-

(a) for an advocate and solicitor to divide or agree to divide either costs received or the profits of his business with any unqualified person;

(b) for an advocate and solicitor to pay, give, agree to pay or agree to give any commission, gratuity or valuable consideration to any unqualified person to procure or influence or for having procured or influenced any legal business and whether such payment, gift or agreement be made under pretext of services rendered or otherwise, but this rule does not prohibit the payment of ordinary bonuses to staff;

(c) for an advocate and solicitor to accept or agree to accept less than the scale fees laid down by law in respect of non-contentious business carried out by him except for some special reason where no charge at all is made.

Bar Council action against alleged online touting

Back in 2010, Index Continent Sdn Bhd created a platform, Answers-in-Law, providing access to legal advice and representation using interactive legal directory and on-demand legal advice through the phone or the internet.

The website also offered annual subscription plans to users in case they have legal needs. Index Continent subsequently got into trouble when the Malaysian Bar went to court to obtain an injunction to stop it from operating, saying the company was an “unauthorised person” under Section 37 of LPA.

Lawyers who are involved in touting

Lawyers who tout are committing misconduct under section 94(3)(f), (g) and (h) of LPA.

Section 94(3)(f), (g) and (h):

(f) the tendering or giving of any gratification to any person for having procured the employment in any legal business of himself or any other advocate and solicitor;

(g) directly or indirectly procuring or attempting to procure the employment of himself or any other advocate and solicitor through or by the instruction of any person to whom any remuneration for obtaining such employment has been given by him or agreed or promised to be so given;

(h) accepting employment in any legal business through a tout.

Touts exist because lawyers use them. Preying on the vulnerable and helpless outside the court through touting is somethiing that every lawyer must shun.

Touting will only end when members of the legal profession cease this unbecoming conduct.

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