|FAQs for Conveyancing Transactions|
Q1. What are the fees chargeable by a solicitor for drawing up a sale and purchase agreement?
A. Fees and charges for non-contentious business are governed by the Solicitors’ Remuneration Order 2005, or “SRO”, as it is commonly known. Legal fees for a sale and purchase agreement (“SPA”), including registration of transfer (for property with title) or assignment (for property without title) and preparation of security/loan documents are provided under the First Schedule of the SRO.
Q2. What about items under “disbursements”? How much can a solicitor charge for these?
A. Disbursements will include stamp duty on the documents, actual amount spent on search fees (Land Office, Official Assignee, Companies Commission Malaysia, etc), registration fees, travelling expenses, other itemised expenses and miscellaneous expenses.
The amount of stamp duty payable on each copy of the SPA is RM10.
Search fees for a private land search vary with the different land offices and registries.
All payments made to government departments and agencies are issued with receipts. You are entitled to ask for copies of all receipts issued by such departments as evidence of payment.
Travelling expenses must be actual expenses incurred by a solicitor in the conduct of the matter.
Over and above the fees and charges stipulated above, the SRO permits a solicitor to charge RM50 for miscellaneous expenses which need not be itemised. A solicitor may charge an amount exceeding RM50 for expenses incurred on telephone, fax and travelling costs for the file provided all the charges are itemised.
Q3. If I find that a solicitor’s bill is unreasonable, what can I do?
A. You may make an official complaint to the Disciplinary Board. Their contact particulars are as follows:
Lembaga Tatatertib Peguam-Peguam
Advocates & Solicitors Disciplinary Board
8th & 9th Floor, Wisma Maran
28 Medan Pasar
50050 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (603) 2034 1911
Fax: (603) 2031 2163
Q4. In refinancing cases, can the solicitor charge for issuing a fresh letter of undertaking?
A. Yes, the SPA lawyer is entitled to charge a reasonable sum under the Sixth Schedule of the SRO. This is because, as far as the lawyer is concerned, refinancing is a whole new transaction and his/her obligation to you is only in respect of the original loan transaction.
Q5. Can a solicitor acting for the developer charge a fee for supplying the standard sale and purchase agreement?
A. No. It is the duty of the developer to supply the sale and purchase agreement and all necessary annexures to the purchaser or the purchaser’s lawyer, free of charge. The panel lawyer for the developer should charge the developer the printing costs for the agreement.
Q6. How much are the legal fees for attending to the transfer and charge of the property when there was no individual document of title or strata title when the sale and purchase transaction was first completed but, the individual document of title or strata title has since been issued?
A. The legal fees are prescribed under Sixth Schedule of the SRO.
If you engage the same lawyer who conducted your purchase transaction and/or the loan transaction, the fees for the solicitor drawing up and completing the subsequent instrument of transfer or charge shall be fair and reasonable and shall not exceed 25% of the applicable scale fee specified in the First or Third Schedule of the SRO, as the case may be, ie it shall not exceed 25% of the initial scale fee that was charged at the time of signing the SPA or loan documents, subject to a minimum fee of RM200.
If, however, a new lawyer is appointed, the fees for the new solicitor drawing up and completing the subsequent instrument of transfer or charge shall be fair and reasonable and shall not exceed 50% of the applicable scale fee specified in the First or Third Schedule of the SRO, as the case may be, ie it shall not exceed 50% of the initial scale fee that was charged at the time of signing the SPA or loan documents, subject to a minimum fee of RM200.
Q7. I am selling my property. The purchaser has not paid the balance of the purchase price and the completion period has expired. What can I do?
A. This is a legal issue which will depend on the terms and conditions of the sale and purchase agreement. It is not within the purview of the Bar Council to give you legal advice. Please refer to your own lawyer for advice or if you are not represented, then please seek independent legal advice from a lawyer.
Q8. Is it true that a solicitor cannot give a discount on his legal fees?
A. Yes, Rule 6 of the SRO states that “[t]here shall be no discount on fees specified in this Order”. Discounts are strictly prohibited by the SRO. Any solicitor who gives a discount or employs any technique or method to give a discount will be referred to disciplinary proceedings. If the Disciplinary Board finds that the solicitor is guilty of being in breach of the ruling, the solicitor may be fined, suspended or struck off the Roll.
Prepared by Bar Council Conveyancing Practice Committee
Date: 22 Feb 2012