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Bar Council not too concerned about consumers

We refer to the letter Not all lawyers con-men .

The issue of errant lawyers has been widely debated for the past few weeks since the publishing of the names of errant lawyers in the newspapers. We at the The National Consumer Complaints Center (NCCC) ourselves have continued to receive complaints from the public on negligent lawyers. Common areas of complaint include delay in completing sale and purchase transactions with many consumers ending up paying interest to developers for delays which is are no fault of theirs.

In most of the cases, the lawyers and banks will not take the responsibility over such cases and the blame game would start. The common time limit allowed to complete a normal house purchase transaction is 2+1 and if this timing is inadequate, the Bar Council must seek avenues to have it extended.

Until now, we don't see any effort by the Bar Council. The Bar Council should look into this matter immediately as consumers are not allowed to choose their own lawyers.

The other common area of grievance is the charging of an excessive contingency fee. It is a well known fact that there are lawyer's who charge as high as 40 percent in contingency fees and this is excluding the 10 percent which is paid by the insurance company as cost.

The Legal Profession Etiquette Rules clearly forbids the charging of contingency fees but this has been going on right under the nose of the Bar Council with poor consumers being abused.

The NCCC agrees that the charging of contingency fees helps poor consumers in obtaining legal representation. Therefore, the Bar Council should legalise and regulate the charging of contingency fees so that consumers are not shortchanged. If it can control discounts on lawyers' fees, then why can't the Bar Council regulate this area as well?

We see that the Bar Council is more interested in issues which do not need urgent attention and by doing so, it neglects bread and butter issues. The NCCC hopes that the Bar Council will be more pro-active is addressing issues which affect consumers at large.

The writer is director, National Consumer Complaints Center (NCCC).