Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday, November 04, 2012
19

British Law Just Isn't British Law


A lawyer running a firm called British Law in Pattaya was actually struck off the law list in Britain for failing to properly represent one of his clients.

Kevin Harper, who formerly worked at Josephs Solicitors in Blackburn, Lancashire, was struck off in 2009 in case number 9816 2007 of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, which ruled he had provided inadequate professional services.

He was suspended indefinitely and also ordered to pay costs of £6,974.

In his ruling the chairman of the tribunal said:“The respondent appeared simply to have  abandoned his responsibilities and left the country.

“ In all of these circumstances the Tribunal considered it right to have imposed an indefinite suspension on the Respondent and would wish to make it that he would be very unlikely to have the suspension lifted if he could not fully demonstrate that he had fully regularised his position”.


That is unlikely to happen.  But Mr.Harper still displays his lawyer’s certificate in his offices in Pattaya Third Road, where he prominently displays displays the Union Jack, as if to say, if its British his company must be strictly legit.

The action against Mr. Harper’s only came to light after the two daughters of David Farrell, who was found dead in Bang Saray, Chonburi  Province, made a complaint of excessive billing.
 
They were charged in the region of £800 – 40,000 baht – in connection with their father’s will.

In fact their father had made a will with another law firm who were handling the matter.
British Law is currently on the British Embassy list of lawyers.

A spokesman said the list was reviewed annually and was currently under review.  Information provided to the Embassy ‘had been noted’.

The Embassy issues a disclaimer saying it cannot be held responsible for the actions of any lawyers on its list.


Above the British Law listing on the Embassy website - UK in Thailand.



Mr.Harper said: “I attended the police station in Sattahip for two days and did land searches at the request of the daughters to attempt to get police to continue the investigation into David’s death.
“The police agreed to investigate the five points of evidence we brought to their attention.  There were no charges for all of my time or my staff’s time during this time”.

In terms of work related to Mr.Farrell’s estate he said: “My Thai lawyer suggested a fee of 70,000, but we eventually agreed with all three applicants to the court at 40,000 plus the court fee of 3000 thai baht.”

Nicky Farrell said: "Not only did we feel we were overcharged but items we gave Mr. Harper to auction also went missing. He informed us he had disciplined a member of staff."

UPDATE: 08-11-12: Mr. Harper has now responded to allegations that he had been struck off in the U.K.


"In 2008 I received a call from a friend of mine in UK to say that I was the subjest of a local newspaper article concering a solicitors panel hearing. It transpired that an ex client had claimed to the law society that I had given some incorrect advice when my solicitors practice was operating some 3 years earlier. The Law Society said they had written to me for my side of events but heard nothing so they called a hearing.
 
"I found out later that the Law Society had sent all the correspondence relating to this to the wrong address in Thailand so I knew nothing of the hearing. Because I did not turn up at the hearing the result was that I could no longer have a practicing certificate in England.
 
" I could have raised an appeal but as I was no longer living in UK and had no intentions of returning there it seemed pointless. I can catagorically tell you that the case did not involve missing client's money simply alleged wrong advice. I state this because the public perception of when a solicitor is "struck off" as you put is that they automatically assume money has gone missing. Our client account was audited by the Law society before the office was closed and all was found to be in order.

"To conclude I am not working as a solicitor in Thailand. I am managing a Law Office. I never advertise. All my customers come from personal recommendation. I have a constant flow of business from ex-pats and some Thais and can offer hundreds of references from satisfied customers, and although I do not pretend to be able to satisfy all the customers all of the time 99.9% of the people I help in Thailand are happy with the service. Should you wish to take up any references please let me know".


A flying sporran report

We brought our dad home in a butty bin

Merseyside millionaire awaited his own death in Thailand

19 comments:

  1. These lawyer lists that the Embassies put out are very misleading and I don't know how many times I've told the Govt this to no avail. The problem with the lists, is that they are simply a list of registered lawyers who are legally allowed to offer services in the country in question. It doesn't mean that they are good service providers or even honorable. In fact, when I (and my husband) were unlawfully detained in Laos in 2000 - 2001, our Lao lawyer (from the Aust Embassy lawyer list) was working with the Public Prosecutor and our interrogators to force us into signing a false statement. He threatened that if we did not cooperate with our captors then he would not be able to act as our lawyer! Well that really wasn't any incentive but it did expose the reality of just how corrupt some of these lawyer lists can be. We have suggested time and time again, that Embassy's better screen these service providers.

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  2. It's not that unusual for "embassy list" lawyers to be removed, usually after complaints from irate customers about over-charging. I also recall one Pattaya lawyer deleted some years ago after trying to console the mother of a suspiciously dead farang in a drunken stupor. "We all have to die my friend and that's the truth," he slurred with a hiccup. The question arises how these lawyers, or sometimes foreign advisers working for a "proper" Thai lawyer, get on to the list in the first place. The answer is probably somewhat informally. Maybe they just write in - the more the merrier - or they have played golf with a high embassy official etc. In my time as honorary consul in Pattaya, we deliberately limited the Pattaya entries to three in contrast with the many on the website currently. At that time the UK embassy website even allowed customers to record their remarks about the quality and cost of the services provided by firms. To be fair, the British embassy site still explicitly warns readers not to be seduced by the list. Actually, there are some very good lawyers in Thailand but the only way to track them down for sure is listening to other expats who have a happy tale to report and not a nightmare. Thanks to this site, we all now know to take foreign embassies and expat pressure groups with just a wee pinch of salt.

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  3. I'm not 100% what this bloke has done wrong, this is not another Noyes or Goudie where they simply pretended to be lawyers. This bloke at least (albeit struck off now) was a lawyer and trained as a lawyer etc.. He wouldn't be the first bloke to decide he's had enough of life in the UK and simply up and leave, perhaps leaving a few loose ends. Is 40'000 THB excessive for a familiar farang face to deal with? It's probably about as much as a Farang would charge you to sort out a visa for your girlfriend. I might use him, but I'd only give him little easy jobs in case he does a runner again :-)


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    1. Goudie pays his lawyer 5000 a day - but only if he is attending court. He charges clients 50,000 a day (as a barrister). Thais find it easy to get a lawyer for under 5000 a day.

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  4. Let's see if I can get this right. The British embassy cannot maintain something as simple as a piffling list of accredited lawyers of proven competence and integrity in Thailand yet on the other hand it seeks to promote British interests by acting as a point of contact for businesses anxious to trade between Britain and Thailand to the satisfaction of both states.
    Mmmm. Reckon I'd give them the bum's rush everytime and trust my own judgement. Ultimately, they're civil servants and therefore of little value in the scheme of things.
    Chocolate teapots and glass hammers the lot of them but they sure do know how to claim those expenses.

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  5. As it is illegal for foreigners to work as lawyers, how can the embassy recommend lawyers who are working illegally? Be wary, you have no place to to complain to if they rip you off.
    I'm told by a Phuket lawyer, Thai but ensconced with Americans, the price is 3000 baht an hour for civil litigation.

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    1. But it's not illegal for foreigners, with work permits, to be attached to a Thai lawyer as an adviser.

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  6. Just for the book a foreigner cannot be on the bar in Thailand. As you will see most of these "foreign legal experts" set up companies offering legal advisory services--aiming of course at foreigners. This is fine, but they all use Thai frontmen/women to do their work & normally are under a Thai lawyer or work on a 20% or so cut maybe more depending on the work. They set up the website--answer all the foreigners questions--then if they need a lawyer get their Thai counterpart to come in. I remember one of my closest legal Thai barristers asked me how many lawyers I thought were corrupt in a certain city in Thailand --the answer was around 95% & thats from a very prominant Thai lawyer???--shock--& now we have many foriegners which would be more than 95% as they do it for money & only money.
    The Brit Embassy does publish lawyers on their website but these I believe are there from people who have used them acting on good advice. Many of these lawyers are dubious as well so it pays to do your own ground checks on any lawyers even if they have a name in the website. The Embassy hasn't done anything for the last 20years on veting whose who in the zoo??? You will note most of these "foreign legal brains" cannot write or read Thai & in the case of our Noyes cannot even speak Thai? so have to rely on their "staff" to interact on all legal work they do.Having a website in English attracts those who need legal work & of course with Kevin Harper the unwary British family in this case forgot to check on his credentials thinking he will look after them as hes from the mother country?. One of the best is to ask a foreign "lawyer" what high court cases has he won in Thailand --dates/where/when etc ??? then see what he has to say? or which Thai University did he graduate from?

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  7. Thanks for that, Mr. Kenyon,
    I do think many foreigners are ripoff artists, but many are not and a few are actually honestly willing to provide a good service, whether or not they hold, or held licenses in any country, word of mouth is the only way.
    People are too cowed by rules of libel to post useful critique online, or sites remove it.
    Please be aware that when you are being sued for defamation, that person has to post a bond which is very likely to lose if your argument is applied as public good, a la Noyes vs. Drummond. Correct, Andrew?


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  8. Whoops AD please edit prior comment?

    sorry, meant

    "Pepe, thanks for that explanation."

    Not Mr. Kenyon

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  9. Chrissy - I have yet to place a bond or bail a Drew Noyes libel case. In fact the one case which was accepted was only accepted because I was not around to contest as on the same day I was in Bangkok bringing a case against him :-). That case did not last long in the courts. The judges got bored.

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  10. Generally solicitors are fiercely protective of their reputation and good standing and will do their utmost to maintain such. I therefore read Mr Harper’s explanation as to why he was “struck off” with interest as personal reputations do not stop at borders. Mr Harper states that he was unaware of the proceedings, correspondence went to the wrong address, and it was simply a matter of “alleged wrong advice” etc. However my reading of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Report (http://www.solicitorstribunal.org.uk/Content/documents/9816-2007%20-%20Harper.pdf) is that Mr Harper was “struck off” not for “alleged wrong advice” but “inadequate service” and also for failing to comply with a court judgement and also a failure to maintain compliant professional indemnity insurance and also an overall failure to respond to all parties including the Tribunal. The last three I surmise are pretty much no noes for solicitors.

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  11. Given the impending closure of the consular services in Pattaya and retrenchment back to Bangkok I hope that the Embassy will ask Mr Kenyon to be part of the selection committee to determine the new Honary Consul. His experience here and insights are invaluable.

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  12. I can assure you Graeme no way. Neither the embassy nor I would want that. Just for starters I'm completely out of date. My own take is that the Jomtien office was set up in 2009 without proper funding or a rational staffing structure or even clear marketing objectives. Very different from the sister office in Chiang Mai. I fear the Jomtien enterprise was doomed from the start, but that's life!

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