Article by Mysahra Shawkat, Executive Officer / Legal Risk Junior Counsel, Bar Council Professional Indemnity Insurance and Risk Management Department, and photo by Shilla Rashid, Perlis Bar Committee Secretariat
The Perlis Bar Committee and the Bar Council Professional Indemnity Insurance ("PII") and Risk Management Department jointly organised a risk management seminar entitled "How Not to be a Statistic: The Conveyancing Scam" at the Perlis Bar Auditorium on 24 July 2019. The panellists at the two–hour forum candidly discussed every conveyancing lawyer's nightmare: transactions that involve impostors, scammers and fraudsters!
The line–up of panellists consisted of Mohan Sankaran and Dennis Goh from Jardine Lloyd Thompson Sdn Bhd (broker for the PII Scheme); G K Ganesan (senior Member of the Bar, and a PII Committee member); and Mysahra Shawkat (Bar Council's Legal Risk Junior Counsel).
The seminar started with Mohan Sankaran's explanation of the cover and the terms under the PII policy. Up next was G K Ganesan, who provided insights on the hot topic of the day, and Dennis Goh then provided tips on risk management. Mysahra Shawkat was the moderator for the seminar.
G K Ganesan caught the participants' attention through his description of at least three different types of scams. Based on data from the PII Scheme, there is one prominent scam that has contributed to the most number of conveyancing claims. The scam involves an agent, promises of clients for the law firm, preparation of loan documentation, and a dispatcher who is not the law firm's employee. The delicately–masterminded scam went undetected by the solicitors in the firm, who had fallen victim to the scam. Another notable scam involves individuals who gain the trust of lawyers, and who thus function as office managers. These individuals later abscond with clients' monies, either in cash or by cashing the law firm's cheques. Throughout the seminar, G K Ganesan constantly reminded participants to be cautious and to improve their law firm's risk management practices.
It was an engaging seminar, but was cut short due to time constraints. The seminar served as a good platform to exchange risk management ideas that can be implemented in law firms. Participants were also reminded to make a notification to the insurer of any claim that might be made against the lawyer or the law firm.
In concluding the seminar, Mysahra Shawkat highlighted the following Bar Council circulars to help Members be on alert:
(1) Circular No 103/2016 entitled "Alert: Possible Scam Against Lawyers Involved in Conveyancing Practice" dated 23 Apr 2016; and(2) Circular No 158/2017 entitled "Fraud Alert: Know Your Office Manager" dated 19 July 2017.
She also drew participants' attention to Circular No 227/2017 entitled "Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme –– Base Excess and Recovered Costs", dated 12 Oct 2017, which provides an explanation regarding base excess.
The PII and Risk Management Department is currently working to organise a similar seminar in other states. If you would like to attend the next seminar on "How Not to be a Statistic: The Conveyancing Scam", please contact your State Bar Committee, or the Bar Council PII and Risk Management Department by telephone at 03–2032 4511, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.