Illegal for lawyers to reward referrers

Lawyers outside the Subordinate Courts.
Lawyers outside the Subordinate Courts.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Law Society refers to the letter "Do referral fee payments fall under corruption?" (June 11).

The writer referred to an alleged ongoing business modus operandi of payment of referral fees by "a number of conveyancing lawyers" to estate agents, without furnishing any specific details about the incidents involved.

This is a vague and unsubstantiated allegation. In recent times and presently, the Law Society has not received any complaint about lawyers paying referral fees.

Under the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules, lawyers are not permitted to reward the referrer by the payment of any commission or other form of consideration.

These professional conduct rules help maintain the independence and integrity of the legal profession.

The Law Society discountenances breaches of ethical rules (including for touting and impermissible referrals). Lawyers transgressing the same have faced the music.

If the writer is aware of any specific instance of such referral fee payments being made, he is invited to lodge a formal complaint, with supporting evidence, to the Law Society so as to trigger a proper inquiry into the matter.

If the writer is unable or unwilling to do so, then she should refrain from making such a sweeping, serious and scurrilous allegation against the conveyancing bar.

Shawn Toh

Director, Communications

The Law Society of Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2019, with the headline 'Illegal for lawyers to reward referrers'. Print Edition | Subscribe