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Developers and buyers cannot hire same lawyer
The Star 18/08/2001

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers representing a housing developer cannot act for the purchasers of the project at the same time, the Bar Council said yesterday.

Its chairman Mah Weng Kwai said that lately, there had been advertisements in local newspapers promising purchasers "subsidised" or even "free legal fees."

"This is especially so during the launch or promotion period of a project, so long as the purchasers agree to allow the developer's panel of lawyers to prepare the sale and purchase agreement.

"In actual fact, the lawyers are acting for the latter, not the purchasers. The developer has a duty to pay for its own lawyers' fees.

"Therefore, there is no issue of 'subsidy or free' legal fees since the purchasers are not liable to pay for these," he said in a statement yesterday.

"Such an offer may be misleading and may not represent the actual situation," he stressed. Mah pointed out that under Section 84(1) of the Legal Profession Act, a lawyer was not allowed to represent both the developer and the purchasers at the same time.

"It also clearly states that the developer cannot appoint lawyers for the purchasers and that they are free to appoint their own," he said.

Mah also stressed that under the law, developers and purchasers must each pay his own legal fees. He said the fees were inclusive of charges for preparing the memorandum of transfer to the purchasers' names, and services in preparing the sale and purchase agreement.

"If the strata or individual title to the purchaser's property has not yet been issued, he may have to pay an additional sum to cover the extra work done when these are issued at a later date," said Mah.

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