Article and photos by Shamine Parisamy, Legal Risk Junior Counsel, Bar Council Professional Indemnity Insurance and Risk Management Department
On 7 Dec 2018, the Professional Indemnity Insurance (“PII”) & Risk Management Department under the direction of the Professional Indemnity Insurance (“PII”) Committee, organised a seminar entitled “How Not to be a Statistic: The Conveyancing Scam”, at the Bar Council Raja Aziz Addruse Auditorium in Wisma Badan Peguam Malaysia.
The objective of this seminar, which highlighted the scams that have been reported to the PII Scheme, was to brief Members of the Bar on the many conveyancing scams affecting law firms, the duty of care expected of a conveyancing lawyer, and risk management policies and procedures that can be adopted by Members.
The seminar was targeted at lawyers practising in the area of conveyancing law. Out of the 49 participants who attended the workshop, 40 were conveyancing lawyers.
The speakers for the afternoon were:
(1) Johan Sahar of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Sdn Bhd, broker for the PII Scheme;
(2) Felicia Ho of Messrs Ho–Noecker & Pragasam, one of the panel solicitors for the PII Scheme;
(3) Dang Merduwati of Echelon Claims Consultants Sdn Bhd, manager of claims files for the PII Scheme; and
(4) Mohan Sankaran, Legal Risk Counsel of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Sdn Bhd.
Karen Cheah of Messrs Chooi & Company + Cheang & Ariff moderated.
Johan Sahar kickstarted the seminar. He explained how the coverage for the PII Policy, Mandatory Limit of Indemnity, Base Excess, and claims loading work, and highlighted the relevant clauses of the PII Policy. He revealed the statistics for the number of claims received for different areas of practice, narrowed down to commercial conveyancing and residential conveyancing. He also provided insights on areas where Members should look out for when purchasing a Top–Up Policy.
Next, Felicia Ho brought the audience’s attention to the crux of the seminar, which was on the types of conveyancing scams that affect law firms in Peninsular Malaysia. She highlighted two conveyancing scams as case studies: in one, a lawyer was found to be in cahoots with the perpetrators of the scam; whilst in the other, the lawyer was found to have been negligent in a case involving fraud by third parties. She emphasised the many red flags that had been raised in each case, and went through the pertinent arguments that had been put forward in court by the parties and the findings made by the courts. She also highlighted the duty of care that is expected of conveyancing lawyers today.
This was followed by a session with Dang Merduwati, who then explained to the participants the limit and exclusion of coverage under the PII Scheme in respect of the two case studies. She shared her experience in managing other conveyancing claims files where lawyers had been scammed.
Finally, Mohan Sankaran provided valuable advice and insights on the essential risk management practices and procedures that should be in place in every conveyancing law firm. He shared on how lawyers can be on the alert for red flags and thus prevent themselves from being scammed. He also gave real–life examples of common mistakes and loopholes in conveyancing practice, the pitfalls and traps, and ways to avoid them.
The end of the session saw a question–and–answer segment, at which juncture the speakers addressed the queries posed by the participants.
Conveyancing scams have cost the PII Scheme millions of ringgit. By holding seminars such as this, the PII & Risk Management Department hopes that Members will learn how to detect scams and protect themselves against the risk of becoming victims.
If you would like to attend the next “How Not to be a Statistic: The Conveyancing Scam” seminar, please contact the PII & Risk Management Department by telephone at 03–2032 4511 or by email at email@example.com.