Beware of quacks posing as lawyers
By - Jun 22nd 2023
I recently lost my life savings when I engaged a property lawyer whom I later discovered was a quack. My intention was to have a lawyer guide the process of purchasing my two plots in a bid to avoid the numerous reported cases of fraud. My fears were confirmed when I went to complain at the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) where it emerged that the ‘lawyer’ I had engaged was not licensed to practice law. I hope other people will be cautious to avoid my pitfall. The professional body in charge of lawyers countrywide should also ensure that members of the public are not conned by people who are not allowed to practice law in the country.
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) is currently conducting a countrywide crackdown on both masqueraders and lawyers operating without current practicing certificates.
LSK President Eric Theuri (pictured above) says the professional body unleashed the campaign following several complaints from the public on people masquerading as Advocates.
Several quacks have been arrested and arraigned in court across the country as LSK steps up the crackdown with support from the National Police Service and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
According to Theuri, LSK will oppose the release of the quacks on bail as once released they move from one town or city to another and continue with their illegal operations.
Some of these quacks have led many prospective investors in real estate to lose their life savings as any documents signed or stamped by a quack have no effect in law.
There have also been reported cases of law students undergoing legal training also masquerading as lawyers with valid practicing certificates.
“Any student still undergoing training should wait for their admission to the LSK before practicing. Failure to adhere to this, we will ensure that you are not admitted to society,” Theuri says.
For the public, it is advisable to be vigilant before engaging a lawyer in any property transaction by confirming their details from the LSK online portal – it is free to access.
A lawyer with a valid practicing certificate for the current year has several roles to play in a property transaction. For instance, when doing a transaction, your lawyer should be the one to do the talking.
He should be able to put your best interests on the table and negotiate with the seller’s advocate and agent. The lawyer also communicates with the local authority, financier, surveyor, valuer, physical planner, and property manager. The lawyer should also – as part of his/her due diligence - research and get relevant information related to the property.
The lawyers also assist with their professional knowledge to transfer the property from the seller to the buyer. The lawyer should ensure the legal transfer documents are in line with local property laws. The lawyer should also be keen when preparing the sale agreement when acting for the buyer and also be cautious when perusing the document on behalf of the seller.
Harold Ayodo is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya