Bar Council urges chambering students to report masters if forced to tout, warns of suspension

PETALING JAYA: To address the menace of touting, the Malaysian Bar has urged chambering students to report their pupil masters if they are forced to illegally solicit clients at the magistrate’s courts.

According to Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir (pic), chambering students are allowed to accompany their pupil master to court, but they are not allowed to approach potential clients or make attempts to secure cases for their pupil masters.

“They are reminded to uphold their integrity at all times and to not act in a manner that can bring the legal profession in disrepute.

“The Malaysian Bar stresses that pupils are not to be used as tools to carry out unethical or prohibited actions on behalf of law firms,” he said in a statement issued on Thursday (March 11).

“Pupils are free to make reports against their pupil masters to the Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board (ASDB) or to inform the Bar Council or state Bar committees if they are forced by their pupil masters to tout, even if it means that they will be asked to leave the firm and continue their pupillage elsewhere,” he added.

Salim said that touting amounts to professional misconduct pursuant to Section 94(3)(h) of the Legal Profession Act 1976 and rule 51 of the Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978.

“A member can face various sanctions if found to be in breach of these rules, including being suspended from practice or struck off the Roll.

“Pupils who are found to be engaged in touting could potentially be prohibited from being called to the Bar due to any complaints of a disciplinary nature,” he warned.

The statement comes after several criminal lawyers said that chambering students are now hired by unscrupulous law firms to illegally tout for clients.

Salim said law firms that use chambering students as touts often target vulnerable individuals who face pending legal troubles and they would apply pressure on them to engage the firms that the touts represent.

“The act of touting is deplorable as it seeks to financially exploit those who are in desperate need of help.

“The Malaysian Bar has consistently denounced touting and we have sought to discourage and stamp out touting by, among others, lodging complaints with the ASDB.”

Salim called for the authorities to thoroughly investigate the matter in order to stamp out touting while urging members of the public to report incidences of touting to the ASDB.

He said the public must insist on receipts whenever they make payments to law firms.

Salim also reminded the public that they can verify the identity of a lawyer by checking their credentials as an advocate and solicitor with the recently launched Digital Membership Card by the Malaysian Bar.

Meanwhile, Salim said the Bar Council, through the state Bar Committees, regularly engage with the courts and other authorities to address touting.

Salim said there have been incidences in the past where action was taken by the police and as a result, these touts were charged in court.

“Justice cannot be administered fairly if there are unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of members of the public. The Malaysian Bar is willing to work closely with the relevant authorities, to decisively quash this abhorrent practice of touting,” he added.

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