February 27, 2009

What if a lawyer give the wrong advice?

Information is power but some information need to be paid for before you can get it. Especially when you deal with professionals such as lawyers and doctors, to name a few. It is an occupational hazard where people always love to ask doctors and lawyers for free advices when they meet them socially. I, for one, consider it not that big a deal as legal work usually are not just what you can advice but what you do with the advice. These 'free advice liability' issue can be a posting on another day but let us look at the consequence of giving the wrong advice.

As always, every profession has it's own hazard. Some can kill you like for those who make a mistake in handling heavy machinery or driving a vehicle. Some can put you into a jail if you did not manage to complete the task according to plan (crime). Some can lead to you losing a few millions dollar of other people's money if you don't actually know what you are doing (bankers). For doctors, someone can lose a limb or a life, if the doctor does not follow procedure or is allowed to practice without any license which usually entails supervision, they could kill someone. 

As for lawyers, their client's life and livelihood are always in their hands. Someone might be sent to death row or to jail or get fined heavily if they did not do their job properly. In real estate deals, the authority might penalise the client for later registration or worse, cancel the transaction if timetables are not met on time. These can be a loss to the client which can sometimes transcend that particular case such as the client might have to rent another property before he or she can move in into his new place. So, it is not just the transaction will make him lose money, he might also be incurring additional cost. These are advices which even if it is just for the transaction of a sale and purchase of a cup of coffee, you can do a few things to get compensation from that lawyer.

As I have mentioned in one of my last post how to differentiate a criminal and civil case I wrote that a lawyer are subject to three liability if they do not do their work properly. The lawyers association or the Bar which license them. Here, their license can be revoked and they can be penalise monetarily. The police if their negligence is due to a breach of trust. Here they will be subjected to whatever breach of trust crime is punishable with. Then, they could also be sued in the civil court of law where the client can ask to be compensated monetarily for whatever damages he had suffered. Yes, lawyers do sue each other even to the point that in Malaysia, every year, the Bar which tries to enforce their law on the lawyers also got sued left and right. 

If ever you are not satisfied with the service your lawyer gave you, the best is to go to the authority that license them and not the police or whatever regulating bodies your case is being applied to. The lawyers themselves usually will listen to reason if you have a case as they themselves wouldn't want to lose their license. This is best if you need to have the lawyer to be on your side if you have another party to deal with as your lawyer still need to comply with conditions which have been set by the case. A divorce case where you keep changing lawyer will make you looks like you just couldn't make up your mind. A transaction involving property where you keep changing lawyer can make you lose the precious time to file your documents according to the schedule set.

In the first instance, choose your lawyer well before you even appoint him. Then you wouldn't have to suffer any problem of selecting the wrong lawyer...


attygnorris said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I am always asked for my "advice", which makes social interactions with non-lawyers cumbersome at times. I mostly gently refuse to give free advice. I am held responsible for everything by the board. People do not understand the cost to us for earning and practicing our expertise. Our opinions are not to be taken likely or dished out haphazardly, because the cost to us is even greater if something is not handled properly.


Harmony the Sleepy Cat said...

Wah, can we sue the lawyer then..

kruel74 said...

attygnorris - Hear! Hear!

Harmony - Yep, you don't know that? Now you do...

headed to nowhere said...

lawyers are taking risk too.. just like other professionals.
i got a question 4 u, as an established lawyer which law faculty in malaysia that u think provide the best graduates?
byw, i really like ur articles.

kruel74 said...

headed to nowhere - For now, people seems to like to take graduates from UiTM as they seems to be trained well....but some do go for the own alma maters..

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