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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Ethics vital for lawyers! Force to sign documents & hit client?

I REFER to the YouTube clip ( showing a lawyer forcing a client to sign documents without reading the contents, shouting at the client, shoving him and kicking him. (See below: Lawyer who hit client claims self-defence)

Any person who encounters poor legal services or suffers detriment has the right to seek remedy.

In Malaysia, action against lawyers lies in the hands of the Disciplinary Board set up under the Legal Profession Act 1976. The Disciplinary Board is independent of the Bar Council, consists of senior lawyers, and is chaired by a judge of the Court of Appeal. It deals with all complaints against lawyers.

The Bar Council is only empowered to deal with cases of misconduct involving dishonesty, which includes cases of cheating and the misappropriation of funds. If the Bar Council receives a complaint involving dishonesty, it can apply for a court injunction to stop the lawyer concerned from practising pending investigations into his case, or apply to the Disciplinary Board for an order of suspension pending such investigations. The Bar Council will also lodge a police report in respect of the complaint if the complainant has not already done so.

The Bar Council regulates the legal profession in this country and it can deny any application to join the profession – based on the “good character” requirement. The meaning of “good character” can be a little bit hazy, but it’s been described as having a strong moral fibre, a belief the law must be upheld, and an appreciation of the difference between right and wrong.

As a regulating body, the Bar Council polices the conduct of lawyers, and disciplines members not only for unethical actions, but also rude or overly aggressive behaviour. Anyone found guilty of professional misconduct shall face suspension.

At university, legal ethics should be viewed as a major subject, to provide students with a thorough grounding of the proper spirit in which lawyers should practise. Honesty should be a crucial part of a lawyer’s education. By the time students begin pupillage, they should already have a good grasp of what makes a good lawyer. This should include knowledge on how to handle clients’ money ethically and the manner in which they are to deal with other lawyers and the courts. Such education should imbue a correct and broad mindset in students and guide them during their pupillage, as they begin to apply the legal knowledge they have acquired in theory to real-life cases.

A word to all legal professionals in Malaysia: respect your clients, the profession, the country and the public interest. Law is an imperfect profession in which success can rarely be achieved without some sacrifice of principle. But we can strive to make it a notable profession that people can respect in this country.

Law lecturer, Ipoh

Lawyer who hit client claims self-defence

PETALING JAYA: A video clip of a house buyer being pushed and kicked by a lawyer has gone viral but the purported attacker says he did it in self-defence after being provoked.

Lawyer Tan Hui Chuan, who was a Selayang municipal councillor until recently, said the house buyer had uttered “hurtful and disrespectful words”.

“I just wanted him to get away from me because he was provoking me, so I pushed him. But I did not punch, scratch or slap him. Yes, I kicked him. But I did not kick to injure him. It was a soft kick,'' he said when contacted yesterday.

The nine-minute video clip shows two men arguing in the presence of three others in an empty house. At one point, one of the men, who is apparently infuriated, pushes the other man and kicks him once. He shoves him several times later.

Gone viral: A still from the video grab purportedly showing the attack.
The footage, recorded by a woman who came with the house buyer, was posted on YouTube on June 21, two days after the alleged incident.

The house buyer claimed he was upset that the lawyer “forced” him to sign some documents without giving him time to verify them first.

However, the lawyer said he merely asked his client to sign the acknowledgment of receipt of several documents that had been tendered to the bank.

“It was neither an agreement nor a contract as all transactions had been completed a week earlier. The client has already taken possession of the property,'' he said.

Tan said his client went to his firm several days later and signed the acknowledgement of receipt.
“And the video was released after that,'' he said.

The lawyer felt that the house buyer had tarnished his reputation by releasing the video.

Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee said victims of physical assault could sue for damages, adding that the house buyer could lodge a police report as well.

“No amount of provocation should attract (any form of) physical assault,'' he said.

He also said that in cases of misconduct involving lawyers, the people could lodge a complaint with the council's disciplinary board.

Theng Book offers to mediate

The Star June 10 2012

PETALING JAYA: Selangor MCA Public Services and Complaints Department chief Datuk Theng Book has offered to mediate in the controversy involving a lawyer who is alleged to have assaulted a housebuyer.

He, however, urged lawyer Tan Hui Chuan to apologise to Neo Kian Hua within a week.

“Failing which, Neo can take the necessary action if he wants to,’’ Theng Book told a press conference at the Selangor MCA office here yesterday in the presence of Neo.

The alleged assault happened on June 19 after Tan summoned Neo to the house he had purchased to sign some documents.

A video clip showing an enraged Tan pushing and kicking Neo posted on YouTube went viral.

Tan, who was a Selayang municipal councillor until recently, had clarified that Neo had uttered “hurtful and disrespectful words” and that he had acted after being provoked.

The lawyer also claimed that he had merely asked Neo to sign to acknowledge the receipt of several documents that had been tendered to the bank.

Neo, a 32-year-old IT consultant, said yesterday that he had never met Tan prior to the incident as he had only dealt with his assistant.

“I also felt strange as to why he was calling for a meeting at the house and not his office,’’ said Neo, who added that he decided to get his girlfriend who accompanied him to the meeting to record it.

Neo claimed that Tan lost his cool after he (Neo) began reading through the documents before signing them.

“As I continued to read the documents, Tan grabbed them from me and told me to go to his office to do the signing,’’ he further claimed.

Theng Book advised all housebuyers and vendors to appoint their own lawyers to protect their interests.

“Banks should not recommend lawyers to vendors and buyers,’’ he said.

Related posts:

Lawyer fleeced millions from victims in property scam 

Lawyer to stand trial to settle RM3.9mil claim against land owners

‘Violent lawyer’ may face action 

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