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June 22, 2003 

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Your Advocate

This week your advocate is M. Moazzam Husain of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. His professional interests include civil law, criminal law and constitutional law. Send your queries to the Law Desk, The Daily Star. A panel of lawyers will address your problems.

Q: I am engaged in one of the export company in Pakistan. In 2000, our company sold machinery to a Chittagong based company under letters of credit. The terms of letters of credit were to release 80% payment on shipment and 20% on receipt of machinery at Chittagong port. In May 2000, Chittagong based company released the machinery from Chittagong port in terms of letter of credit but it simultaneously addressed bank for stoppage of 20% balance amount and went to file suit for money claim against bank. And our company seeking thereby restraining orders for the bank for reimbursement of balance amount of 20% and also levelled accusations for short of machinery against us. In order to defend the case, we hired two local advocates to defend our case and got vacate the status quo orders. The court then was hearing the case and after a lapse of over three years the case is still pending and our company's 20% amount is still stuck-up. Now the lawyer in Chittagong has become greedy and is demanding 5% of the recovery amount with startling contentions that in case the suit is dismissed we will get 20% amount for which we will bear 5% litigation cost payable to him. He threatened us that if we did not make payment he will not pursue the case further. This is a case of illegal and unethical practices on part of the lawyer to whom we have already paid his fees of 10,000 Taka. Can you assist me as to how we can save our interest on threats of Chittagong based lawyer and how we can seek urgent relief from that court as our funds 20% are still stuck-up with a Bangladesh bank.

Abdul Rashid Abro

Your Advocate: Your question is essentially one of misconduct on the part of your lawyer. So far as the long pendency of your suit and a considerable amount of money being stuck in it concerned it is a problem inherent in our system and we are just trying to get rid of it in so many ways including amendment of laws. Things have by now much improved in this respect, I must say. For quick disposal of your case you have no other alternative but to ask your lawyer to take appropriate steps towards disposal of the case as soon as possible. Back to the main question, a lawyer in determining the amount of his fees is entitled, amongst others, to consider a number of things: a) the time, labour and skill required, novelty and difficulty of the question involved in conducting the case b) the customary charges of the Bar for similar services and d) the amount involved in the controversy and the benefit resulting to the client from the services. But in no circumstances a lawyer can emerge as a claimant of any share of the money or property involved in the dispute in lieu of his remuneration or as a reward or bounty or in any form. The amount you have already paid to your lawyer does not ipso facto suggest that he can not claim further fees but point is he can not do that by way of claiming any part of your money that may be due in the event of your success in the suit. In the circumstances you can rescind the appointment given to your lawyer as per Order III of the Code of Civil Procedure and also make a complaint to the Bangladesh Bar Council against him asking for an action for violating Canons of Professional Etiquette.


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