The Malaysian Bar refers to the article published on page 3 of The Star newspaper on May 5, 2016, with the headline ‘Touts open own legal firms with new lawyers’.
Touts are persons who receive commissions from law firms in return for securing clients for the law firms. Touts typically approach members of the public who are in need of legal representation, and apply pressure on them to engage the law firms that the touts represent.
Touting is abhorrent to the legal profession and detrimental to the public interest, and the Malaysian Bar views touting seriously.
Members of the Malaysian Bar who hire touts to lure members of the public as clients to their legal practice commit an act of misconduct under Section 94(3)(h) of the Legal Profession Act 1976 and Rule 51 of the Legal Profession (Practice & Etiquette) Rules 1978, and can be subject to disciplinary action.
The Yayasan Bantuan Guaman Malaysia (National Legal Aid Foundation, ‘YBGK’) Scheme provides legal assistance to all Malaysians, at no cost - irrespective of their financial means - at police stations, at remand hearings, and when they are charged in court.
Insofar as hearings are concerned, any person whose income does not exceed RM36,000 per year is eligible to receive legal representation free of charge. Those who wish to seek legal assistance under this Scheme may contact YBGK by telephone at 1-800-88-9245.
The Malaysian Bar, YBGK and the Judiciary have been working together to put in place various measures to stamp out touting. These measures include producing a YBGK informational flyer that is to be distributed to accused persons and members of the public, to create awareness regarding the availability of legal assistance under the YBGK Scheme, and to advise against the use of touts.
Similarly, posters highlighting the YBGK Scheme and warning against touts are to be displayed at court premises.
The Bar Council has lodged complaints with the Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board against Members of the Bar who are alleged to be involved in touting, and will continue its efforts to eradicate the menace of touting.
STEVEN THIRU is president, Malaysian Bar.