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LMPTC, lawyer feud

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Caswell Tlali

 MASERU — A local lawyer, Koili Ndebele, is at loggerheads with a client that has refused to pay him over M120 000 for his services because he had allegedly illegally billed the company.

The client, Lesotho Public Motor Transport Company (LPMTC), says it will not pay him because he had billed them directly as an advocate instead of doing it through an attorney.

Regulations say an advocate is supposed to claim his or her fees from an instructing attorney.

An attorney is the one who bills the client and then pays the advocate’s fees.

That is the gripe the LMPTC has with Ndebele’s bill.

The company has since reported Ndebele to the Law Society of Lesotho “for appropriate action”.

The Law Society is a statutory body that regulates the conduct of lawyers.

The company claims that Ndebele submitted his bill on September 17 for the 12 cases he handled.

Ndebele wanted to be paid M121 600 for his legal services.

In a letter that he wrote the company after submitting that bill, Ndebele said he was “however busy preparing a comprehensive bill that will reflect the actual amounts which ought to be paid”.

“That would double the present bill,” he warned his client.

LPMTC director ’Mamosala Mokitimi, however, wrote back to him saying the company would not pay him anything because “nothing has been done on those cases and we have not been advised of (their) current position”.

“Again as far as the little law we know, an advocate is entitled to his fees once he or she has duly done something according to the instructions of his attorney.”

Mokitimi told Ndebele in the letter that his only relationship with LMPTC was through the company’s attorneys, AT Monyako & Co.

Ndebele was instructed by AT Monyako & Co to appear in court for LMPTC.

“Clearly your claim for the fees lies somewhere, but certainly not with us,” Mokitimi said in his letter to Ndebele.

“At the most AT Monyako & Co are the rightful persons to make a claim equivalent to the one you made.”

Attorney Tsotang Monyako told the Sunday Express on Friday that Ndebele was not happy with the company’s approach to the issue.

“Ndebele has requested a meeting with me over the issue,” Monyako said.

“I do not have many things to tell him except to show him Legal Practice Act Section 6(2) b.”

The section says an advocate shall not “demand or receive money or instruction directly from a client except through his instructing attorneys”.

Mokitimi also says LPMTC will not pay Ndebele because he allegedly owes the company more money than the amount he is claiming from it.

“You will be aware that since you occupied the office of the company to carry your business of K Ndebele Chambers, since August 2009, you remain indebted to the company for rentals from that time till now,” reads Mokitimi’s letter.

“If the document you have attached to your letter is anything to go by, your claim to the company is fully set off against the claim of the company against you.

“You, not the company, remains indebted.”

Mokitimi ends her letter with a request to Ndebele to “vacate the office by the 30th September 2010” because the Law Society has “been complaining against our sharing (of) the office with you”.

Mokitimi has also written a letter of complaint to the Law Society about Ndebele’s behaviour.

Ndebele has refused to comment.

“I do not even want to be quoted saying I reserve my comment because I do not want my name in papers,” Ndebele said.

“Be careful because whatever you publish about me I will consider it defamatory.”

“I will take action against you and Monare,” he warned.

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