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DOHA: The Advisory Council yesterday suggested that lawyers should not be allowed to charge more than 10 percent of claims as fee in civil and commercial disputes.
But legal practitioners warned that attempts to restrict such percentages would doom their profession at a time when the cost of living was spiralling and their overhead expenses were escalating.
Interestingly, the existing legislation regulating the legal profession leaves the issue of a lawyer’s fee in claims in civil and commercial cases to be determined mutually by the lawyer and his client.
The legislation is being amended and a draft law has been approved by the State Cabinet and forwarded to the Advisory Council for recommendations.
In the draft law, the Cabinet has recommended that lawyers should not be permitted to charge more than 20 percent of claims as fee in civil and commercial disputes.
Going a step ahead, the Advisory Council has reduced this percentage to 10. “Fixing such percentages would ruin our profession,” a prominent lawyer told this newspaper.
Dr Saud Al Azba said: “Such recommendations are unfair. They wouldn’t be accepted by our fraternity.”
He said only rarely are claims amounts in civil and commercial disputes very high and run into millions of riyals. “In a majority of cases, such claims do not exceed 50,000 riyals,” Al Azba said.
The current law that does not restrict such percentages is welcome. Restricting the percentage would mean that lawyers wouldn’t be able to recover even their basic expenses.
Claims cases linger for long and require hard work from lawyers. “Why such restrictions are being introduced at a time prices are soaring,” Al Azba said.
Asked if the recommendation covers foreign lawyers as well, he replied in the negative and said as per Qatar’s laws foreign lawyers must work under their Qatari counterparts.
It is, however, not known if the amended law would cover foreign legal consultancy firms operating in the country and those registered with the Qatar Financial Centers as well.
Asked about lawyers having been told to vacate villa-offices in residential areas and move to commercial districts, Al Azba said that was unfair, too, because they would have to pay high office rents and their overhead costs would skyrocket.
“We are trying to convince the authorities concerned not to remove us from residential areas. After all, we are not carrying out commercial activities. Ours is a service-oriented profession,” he said.
Al Azba said he found it strange that while medical and engineering professionals were being allowed to retain villa-offices, the lawyers were being driven out.
“So why target lawyers alone?”