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De Rebus letter

27 May 2004

The main reason being that the socialist principle underlying it in the past allowed poorer home buyers to be subsidised by the wealthier. He maintains:
"If the fee is not negotiable, it makes it much easier for the conveyancer to get on with the work without having to spend time arguing over the reasonableness or not of the fee, or the amount of discount the tenacious purchaser/mortgagee demands. I find it very difficult to refuse a discount when requested, no matter how unreasonable I believe the client to be. I am sure other conveyancers find themselves similarly compromised."

He notes that had the tariff continued being non negotiable, it would not have had to be adjusted since it would have increased in line with property values.

De Rebus website

Reader Comments: 3
MARCIA DU PONT 28/05/2004:

I fully agree that due to (1) rising in home prices the attorneys conveyancing fees must increase (if people can pay and spend more for a property they can definitely pay more for attorneys fees and furthermore, (2) due to all the extra workload by banks towards attorneys as well as FICA requirements, the workload for attorneys just become more and more without higher fees.

The responsibility of attorneys / lawyers firms becomes more. It is said by the public and newspapers that attorneys fees is very high but only a little bit of a transfer account exists of the attorneys fees - the biggest part is for THE RECEIVER OF REVENUE - NOT FOR THE ATTORNEY.

Attorneys must stop "kniebuig" before clients as well as estate agents as in most cases it is the estate agents telling clients beforehand to demand a lower tariff for fees from attorneys "as it is their right" which is not quite true.

M Smith 28/05/2004:

Hear, hear! Why should we be forced to negotiate our fees when other professionals won't even hear of it? Do you negotiate your doctor's fee before allowing him to treat you? We are lawyers, not prostitutes! We are slitting each others' throats by having this "Oh well, 50% of a fee is better than nothing" attitude.

Anon 31/05/2004:

I find it quite easy dealing with the client who wants a discount...establish what the client does for a living, I offer a discount and confirm that I and my partners expect the same discount when purchasing goods and/or services from him. This is usually met with "But I can't afford to do that!" to which it becomes easy to reply "But why? You expect me to" The request for the discount is then abandoned quite quickly.

Regretably attorneys are their own worst enemies when it comes to this- if you are not prepared to justify your fee and explain why a client is getting value for money and opt for the easy route of allowing a discount, then the impression given is that the attorney is making a killing and a discount is justified and is there for the asking. Another way of addressing the problem is to ask what part of the service you are going to render that they are prepared to forfeit...do they even know what the "job" entails?

You are providing a responsible and professional service for which you are entitled to charge a reasonable fee...ask what part of the fee is unreasonable. Do not cheapen the service you provide by giving a discount just because a client asks. When buying groceries upon arriving at the checkout do they ask for a discount? Did they ask the estate agent for a discount on commission? Our standard answer is a quick "No we cannot afford discounts, and believe we are giving you a first class service" and end it there...we proceed to justify our fee where the client is more persistent.

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