Battle of the Titans

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As Legal Shield Clashes with the Law Society

By Desie Heita

Windhoek

Legal Shield and the Law Society of Namibia are at each other’s throats again.

This time, Legal Shield is contending the conveyance tariffs prescribed by the Law Society of Namibia on purchased property and land.

Quinton van Rooyen, the Managing Director of Trustco that owns the Legal Shield subsidiary, wants the High Court to set aside the prescribed tariffs, because they are unconstitutional.

Conveyance tariffs are fees paid to lawyers for services rendered during change of property ownership.

Legal Shield has clashed with the Law Society of Namibia before on Legal Shield’s usage, and the charging thereof, of legal services on its clients. Legal Shield provides legal insurance to the public.

“The high fees are unrelated to the amount of work done. It is unconstitutional and it limits the freedom of new lawyers in the practice of their profession,” Principal Legal Advisor to Legal Shield, Kobus Miller, said.

Lawyers’ fees are based on a percentage of the value of the property. The law stipulates that the conveyance fees be charged on any property bought.

Legal Shield has appointed Advocates Raymond Heathcote and Dave Smuts, Senior Counsel, to bring the application to the High Court.

Van Rooyen said land ownership is “an unalienable right and should be encouraged in this young democracy of ours”.

“The prescribed tariffs are closing the market to new law firms and deter their ability to practice their profession. Some young firms are obliged to merge with more established firms to gain access to this market and often to their detriment,” said Van Rooyen.

Van Rooyen said property deals go through as people find it difficult to pay the additional tariffs and banks are reluctant to loan more than the value of the property.

“Tariffs recommended by the Law Society are crippling the market and the public’s access to owning property and Legal Shield is tackling the matter head-on,” said Van Rooyen.

He said the international trend is to do away with conveyance tariffs.

“Studies have shown that doing away with these tariffs does not adversely impact on service delivery,” he said.

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