Thursday, January 12, 2012

814. A duty to charge fairly for work done - lawyers overcharging

Straits Times Jan 12, 2012 Pg B2
"Two lawyers face disciplinary court for overcharging"

Tow lawyers of more than 18 years of practice had an agreement to charge 5% of the estate when its assets were sold. The estate value went up to $9.77 million in 2004 and they were entitled to $488,500. The disciplinary tribunal said that they overcharged by around $566,000 when the fees should be $170,000.

The lawyers' defence was that this fee agreement must be set aside before they can be said to overcharge. The tribunal rejected their defence as the charges showed that the lawyers wanted to profit from the rise in the value of assets rather than get paid for work done. In addition, the tribunal questioned the contents of their bill of costs. The two lawyers spent one hour in drafting two letters. One letter consisted of one sentence and the other three sentences. So, the lawyers were referred to the Court of Three Judges for gross professional misconduct.

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