Lawyer censured for overcharging client
By selina lum
A LAWYER who billed a client $120,800 for work worth $48,000 was censured in court yesterday.
Mr Anand Kumar Toofani Beldar, 45, had in 2010 admitted to overcharging before an independent disciplinary tribunal, which found that his case was serious enough to go before the Court of Three Judges. This court has the power to censure, suspend, or strike lawyers off the roll for professional misconduct.
Mr Anand, a Singaporean who has about 10 years’ experience, is now working in Dubai as an in-house legal officer. He is not allowed to practise law here as he was made a bankrupt in 2010 after one of his partners, Zulkifli Mohd Amin, skipped town three years earlier with more than $10 million of clients’ money.
Mr Anand and Mr Sadique Marican, another partner in their firm Sadique Marican & ZM Amin (SMZA), were hired by Ms Irene Tan in April 2007 to enforce her rights to buy a property. They told her that they would charge $12,000 a day for an anticipated eight-day trial. By June 2008, she had paid $96,000. Meanwhile, Mr Anand and Mr Marican later moved to Frontier Law Corporation (FLC), where they continued to represent Ms Tan. The trial started on Oct 13 in 2008 and ended in two days.
Ms Tan wanted to get a refund of $72,000. Instead she got a $8,000 bill from SMZA and a $112,800 bill from FLC. She complained to the Law Society in June 2009. The case was heard before the tribunal a year later, in November and December 2010. The tribunal issued their report in February last year.
Mr Anand told the tribunal the bill should have amounted to $48,000 “at most”, taking into account two trial days and two days of settlement talks. Mr Marican has been struck off the rolls for grossly failing to supervise the accounts at SMZA. Zulkifli Amin is still at large.