PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has defended the increase in conveyancing fees by the Solicitors’ Costs Committee (SCC), following concerns raised by several quarters, including a retired judge, saying the increase is “in tandem with the times”.
“While Malaysians are facing challenging times, professionals, including lawyers, are equally affected,” Bar president Karen Cheah said in a statement.
The right to regulate and review the scale fees is stipulated in the Legal Profession Act 1976 (LPA), which facilitates the establishment of a SCC to decide on such review of costs, Cheah said.
She was responding to the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC), which said the increase went “against the spirit of competition”.
MyCC chairman Hishamudin Yunus, himself a retired Court of Appeal judge, said the fee increase was “untimely” given that everyone was presently struggling to cope with the cost of living.
Cheah was also responding to a retired judge who said it was a “blatant abuse of social justice and the free market”, adding that most of the work is in a “standard form”.
But Cheah said the LPA existed way before the Competition Act 2010.
She also said the Bar was well within its rights, as the regulatory body of practising lawyers in Malaysia, to recommend what is best for the legal profession.
MyCC had been told of the Bar’s stance in 2015, she said.
“In the best tradition of the Malaysian Bar, we would not forsake the interests of Malaysians and we have not done so with respect to the SRO,” she said, referring to the Solicitors’ Remuneration Order 2023, which took effect on July 15.
Cheah said there was no such thing as a “standard transaction”, nor was there such a thing as a “cut and paste” job in preparing an agreement under the SRO.
“Every seasoned conveyancing practitioner will know that,” she said, adding that there were many nuances involved in such matters where the legal repercussions were endless.