Different charges for same legal jobs
Lawyers responsible for over charging, fraud and corruption…
BY DONALD WILLIE in Post Courier
THE State is paying some law firms three times more for similar cases, a lawyer involved in the Commission of Inquiry into procedures and processes of briefing out cases, said Counsel assisting the commission, John Griffin QC, told the Post-Courier that lawyers have been seen to be overcharging considerably.
On the other hand, a lot of lawyers have submitted bills which have not been paid and there have been complaints by the lawyers and the Government on the overall payment processes.
“The objective of this inquiry is to work out practices and procedures that are appropriate and bring the system in line with the way it works in other places,” Mr Griffin said. “Through this enquiry, the Government can get good legal services from private lawyers for an appropriate charge.”
He said this was to eliminate the problems of overpayment, fraud and corruption. Giving evidence yesterday, principal of Wagambie Lawyers, Michael Wagambie said on government cases briefed out in his firm, senior lawyers charged up to K700 an hour depending on experience and competency.
Mr Griffin alerted Mr Wagambie that there had been cases where lawyers had charged up to K2000 per hour. Asked if he thought such an amount was reasonable, Mr Wagambie said it was not. He recommended that a standard rate be set for payment.
“I think this is important because it should now set a standard rate for lawyers across the board, rather than just charging at will as and when they like to charge,” said Mr Wagambie.
Mr Wagambie also recommended that a committee be established under the direction of the Solicitor-General to assist in awarding brief outs to avoid being biased.