Lawyers are professional people trained in law. You may seek their help to solve your problems. They are independent people and any information given to them is confidential and can only be released with your consent. Though a lawyer’s main duty is to protect your interest, he is also an officer of the Court and must not mislead the court or assist you in any way to break the law. He is bound by a strict code of conduct and rules of etiquette.
WHEN YOU MAY WISH TO SEE A LAWYER
Generally you may wish to see a lawyer to :
- Get advice on legal problem
- Represent you in court, if necessary
- Assist you in handling of your legal rights
You may therefore wish to see a lawyer, in particular
- When you are charged with a criminal offence, to seek advice on matters relating to your defence, and to represent you in court
- When you wish to make a claim against another party you can ask a lawyer to file a claim for you and to represent you in court
- When some other party has unfairly filed a claim against you in Court, you may wish to seek the help of a lawyer to defend the claim
When you are in doubt over any matter relating to the law, it is advisable to consult a lawyer. This is for your own protection. Also, taking legal advice at an early stage could save you a lot of time, trouble and money.
SERVICES OFFERED BY LAWYERS
Lawyers can provide you with a variety of important and useful services. Some of the services provided by them are :
- When somebody owes you money and has not repaid it to you despite repeated requests, you may wish to see a lawyer to make a claim on your behalf
- When you are involved in a traffic accident, a lawyer can advise you on the steps to be taken in making a claim, as well as what you should do to protect yourself against claims from other parties.
- When you have problem with your husband or wife, a lawyer can advise you on the law relating to divorce, separation, maintenance and custody of children
- When you wish to buy or sell a house, a lawyer can advise you on the procedures involved, check all documents on yourself.
- When you have a problem relating to tenancy of a property, either as landlord or tenant, you can see a lawyer to seek advice or represent you in Court, if necessary.
- Before you sign any important, business or employment contract, you could show a draft of it to a lawyer and seek his advice
- When a family member has passed away, you can ask a lawyer to apply to court to enable the assets of the deceased to be dealt with.
You may wish to consult a lawyer :
- To make a will so that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes after your death
- To change your name
- To adopt a child
- Before you start a business or incorporate a company
- To find out your legal rights in the matter
HOW TO LOOK FOR LAWYERS
The best method of choosing a lawyer is through the personal recommendation of colleagues, friends and relatives.
Lawyers are generally not allowed to advertise but the Bar Council publishes a directory of lawyers that contains names, addresses and other relevant information of all practising lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia. Click here to access the legal directory on the Malaysian Bar’s website.
SEEING A LAWYER
If you first contact with your lawyer is by telephone, inform him of your reason for consulting him and then make an appointment to see him.
At the meeting, bring along with you all relevant documents and give your lawyer all the necessary information. It would be helpful to write down all the questions you would like to ask your lawyer.
Do not be afraid to ask questions. If you wish, you may also ask your lawyer about the amount of work involved and how long your matter would take.
Remember : Your lawyer is there to assist you.
The fees payable by you will generally depend on the amount of work done on your behalf, the time taken and the difficulty of the work involved, In some cases, the fees payable by you are fixed by law e.g. the buying and selling of houses
It is common for lawyers to ask you to place a deposit with them before they begin to work on your behalf. You can request for a receipt for any money placed by you with a lawyer.
Always feel free to discuss the question of fees with your lawyer. This is to avoid misunderstanding. If you are unhappy with the fees charged to you, discuss the matter with your lawyer first. If the matter cannot be resolved, you may ask your lawyer to arrange for his bill to be taxed i.e. decided by the court
If there is a need for you to see a lawyer but you cannot afford to pay the fees, you may seek help from a Legal Aid Centre run by the Bar Council.
Legal Aid Centres are located in most cities and towns in Peninsular Malaysia.
The Centres provide representation for all criminal mattes for all those who qualify except offences that carry capital punishment (i.e. death and life sentences) and render legal assistance for all civil matters except matters relating to recovery of debts and motor accident claims.
The government also runs a Legal Aid Scheme for people who need legal assistance but cannot afford to pay fees. The Government Legal Aid Bureau has offices in all major cities and towns in Malaysia and their office at Kuala Lumpur is situated at :
Biro Bantuan Guaman, Wilayah Persekutuan,
Tingkat 1, Wisma Cycle & Carriage,
50504 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel : 2942700
The Legal Aid Bureau renders assistance in most legal matters for those who qualify except legal representation for criminal cases.
It should be noted that a person seeking legal aid has to pass a strict Means Test to qualify for assistance from either the Bar Council Legal Aid Centre or the Government Legal Aid Bureau. You will be required to give information about your income, savings and property owned.
The Bar Council is the governing body for lawyers practising in Peninsular Malaysia. It sets the standard of professional which lawyers have to follow. If you are unhappy with the services provided by your lawyer, you should first try to sort it out with him, as the problem may be the result of a misunderstanding or a breakdown in communication. If this is not possible you may wish to write to the Bar Council for assistance.
The address of the Bar Council is :
No. 15, Leboh Pasar Besar,
50050 Kuala Lumpur,
Tel : (603) 2050 2050 (Hunting)
Fax : (603) 2026 1313
(603) 2034 2825
(603) 2072 5818
Extracted from The Malaysian Bar