Is This Legit - Cyprus Lawyers taken To UK Court

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Is This Legit - Cyprus Lawyers taken To UK Court

Postby alewfin » 25 Jul 2015 09:56

This is an email sent to my friend. Is it legit ?


The Fairness in Fees Campaign – Cyprus Lawyers



1. Minimum Fees Regulations



The Cyprus Bar Association (CBA) operates rules known as the Minimum Legal Fees (Out of Court Cases) Regulations (the Minimum Fee Regulations) which enable lawyers to charge fixed fees for the administration of estates, drafting Wills, commercial and property transactions and other types of out-of-Court work.



The Minimum Fee Regulations set out formulae for calculating lawyers’ fees irrespective of the time spent or the complexity of the matter.



This is believed to be unique within the EU.



2. Legal Opinion issued by Counsel in London



Counsel in London specialising in European competition law has advised that the Minimum Fee Regulations are in clear breach of the price fixing and cartel provisions of Article 101 of the European Treaty and are therefore unlawful in European law.



As a result:



a) Fees which are calculated under the Minimum Fee Regulations would be null and void;



b) The Cyprus Bar Association risks being fined 10% of its annual income by the European Commission for price fixing. Individual lawyers and legal practices could be similarly fined;



c) Members of the public could bring actions for recovery of overpaid fees against lawyers who have overcharged them.



Counsel is extremely confident in this analysis.



3. Who is Counsel

Counsel is Mr Robert O’Donoghue of Brick Court Chambers. His background and details can be found on his website (please see link below).

http://www.brickcourt.co.uk/people/prof ... -odonoghue

Robert has an extensive reputation in EU competition law. His clients include companies such as British Airways, Google, Glencore, Telefonica, ASDA, Samsung, Marks and Spencer and competition authorities. He has appeared in major cases in the High Court, Competition Appeal Tribunal, Court of Appeal, the EU Courts, the Irish courts, international arbitral bodies, and in hearings before competition authorities.

He has consistently appeared as a leading barrister in legal directories such as Chambers and Partners and Legal 500. Further awards and accolades include:

· Listed in the “40 Under 40” of global competition lawyers by Global Competition Review – one of only three practising UK barristers listed (2012),

· Profiled as one of five junior barristers in the Global Competition Review UK Barrister Survey (2013),

· The youngest nominee and only practising barrister to feature in the Who's Who of Competition Lawyers & Economists (2011),

· Outstanding EU Competition Lawyer Fellowship Award, Global Competition Law Centre, College of Europe (2003).

4. What led to the instruction to advise on the legality of the Minimum Fee Regulations

Robert’s advice was obtained by George Lambis who is a Greek Cypriot and a Chartered Accountant who has lived in England since 1977. He is the Finance Director of a national charity in the UK.

His personal experience arose from the administration of his aunt’s estate where he felt that he had been greatly overcharged by a local lawyer for the work undertaken. He attempted to challenge these fees by applying to the CBA through its’ adjudication procedure only to be told that the Minimum Fee Regulations applied to his case and that that was the end of the matter as far as the CBA was concerned. The panel was not at all interested in the reasonableness of the fees charged. He was also unhappy at his treatment at the hearing.

He decided to take the matter further by seeking legal advice in the UK and by launching a campaign.

BPE Solicitors of St James’ House, St James’ Square, Cheltenham, GL50 3PR have been advising on the legal practicalities in the UK and are working with Counsel.



5. Submitting a Complaint to the European Commission (the Commission)



The next step in the process of challenging the Minimum Fees Regulations is to submit a formal “Complaint” to the Directorate-General for Competition department of the Commission supported by legal argument. Counsel will draft the Complaint and, because of the importance of the case, proposes to meet with the Competition authorities first.



The Commission’s decision will take a few months.



6. The action group



An action group is now being launched under the name “Fairness in Fees – Cyprus Lawyers”. The group will:



· Instruct Solicitors and Counsel to draft and lodge the Complaint. This is a fairly expensive process because of the sophistication of the legal arguments and supporting evidence required;



· Provide further information to the Commission if needed;



· Keep members informed of progress and advise on the Commission’s decision;



· Assist private actions by members to recover overpaid fees, including assembling a group legal action in London which members will be invited to join.



7. Aims



A favourable decision by the Commission will mean that those lawyers’ fees which have been calculated under the Minimum Fee Regulations will be found to be void in law and refundable to clients. There is no statute of limitations in Cyprus so claims can be made without a time limit restricting such claims.



A ruling could therefore be followed by multiple claims for repayment of fees with limited funds available for repayment. Speed of action is therefore essential.



A further issue is that it may be very difficult to find a lawyer in Cyprus who is willing to take a case against other local lawyers. All lawyers in Cyprus are required to be members of the CBA so are jointly liable under competition law!



It is therefore envisaged that recovery actions will largely be brought outside Cyprus. Breaches of European competition law are actionable in the Courts of other member states and London is preferred by the action group, particularly for British ex-patriots, as the UK Courts are independent of local influence and have extensive powers to award damages. Litigation insurance is also widely available in the UK.



8. The Action Group



The action group is being established as a company limited by guarantee in England with a management committee of five including George Lambis. A full information pack including details of the company and its directors will be circulated to members after joining.



There will be a fundraising target to raise in order to progress matters to the European Commission. The number of responses will enable us to set a required contribution to cover costs relating to this matter. Clearly we cannot anticipate membership numbers at this stage. However, if we had approximately 200 members the contribution per member would be approximately £300.



The fundraised amount will allow the action group to:



· Prepare and lodge the Complaint with the European Commission;



· Continue to keep members informed of progress with the Complaint;



· Meet legal requirements with respect to maintaining accounts and company administration matters;



· Complete arrangements for specialist insurance underwriting in preparation for a private group litigation action in London for the recovery of overpaid fees.



If you are interested in participating please respond to George Lambis at gj.lambis@blueyonder.co.uk confirming your interest.



We would also like to invite expressions of interest to joining the management committee and for the position of company secretary.



Please respond within two weeks from the date of this email. Please could you also provide an approximate amount by which you believe you have been overcharged by lawyers in Cyprus.



alewfin
 
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Is This Legit - Cyprus Lawyers taken To UK Court

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Re: Is This Legit - Cyprus Lawyers taken To UK Court

Postby Amazon » 25 Jul 2015 20:34

The email appears to come from George Lambis who is the finance director of a charity based in London. Why therefore is he asking you to respond to a private email address gj.lambis@blueyonder.co.uk?

George Lambis was educated at the English School in Nicosia and finished with accountancy qualifications.

Has your friend ever used a lawyer in Cyprus where he/she feels they were overcharged?

If this is genuine then there are many UK lawyers who would take it on try checking one out and ask for their opinion.

Looks like a scam to me as the suggestion of handing over a large sum of money seems crazy in such circumstances
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Re: Is This Legit - Cyprus Lawyers taken To UK Court

Postby emgee » 26 Jul 2015 08:52

I think I'll pass on this one.

Alan
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Re: Is This Legit - Cyprus Lawyers taken To UK Court

Postby Nigel-Howarth » 26 Jul 2015 09:32

This is genuine.

I have spoken with George Lambis on a number of occasions and I have the barrister (Robert O’Donoghue's) legal opinion.

This is NOT going to a UK court - the case is going directly to the European Commission.

There are a number of legal precedents. In 2004 the European Commission condemned the minimum fee scale imposed by the Belgian Architects’ Association. The Commission considered that the fixing or recommending fees to be a “very serious infringement” and fined the Association €100,000.

For obvious reasons the chances of finding a lawyer in Cyprus who is prepared to progress any action against his Bar Association at the European Commission will prove ‘difficult’. It will probably prove even more ‘difficult’ to find a lawyer in Cyprus who is willing to take one of his colleagues to court to claim overpaid fees!

Amazon - there could well be other lawyers in the UK willing to take this on, but they would need the barristers opinion before proceeding - and it needs a barrister to petition the Commission.

More a bit more information, see http://www.news.cyprus-property-buyers. ... id=0051470

Regards,
Nigel Howarth
Free independent information for Cyprus property buyers.
Ask your property questions on my Cyprus Property Forum.
Read the latest news at Cyprus Property News.
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Re: Is This Legit - Cyprus Lawyers taken To UK Court

Postby GeorgeL » 19 Aug 2015 14:40

Thank you for your comments Nigel.

Hi all, my name is George Lambis. I was born in Larnaca but have been in the UK since 1977. I am a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and I work as a Director of Finance at a national charity in the UK. Matters have moved on since the document was produced - a company has now been incorporated at Companies House in the UK in the name of Fairness For Fees Limited (this can be checked on line) and an email address has been set up in the name of fairnessforfees@gmail.com. Details of Counsel who provided the relevant advice are included in the document so I won't go into detail. He is an eminent Competition Counsel - I have met him and have his full written legal opinion. The way lawyers in Cyprus are regulated by their code of conduct and the way the local system operates makes it very difficult to fight this campaign locally as I have discovered - that's why it is being driven from London. It needs the right mix of expertise to succeed. The plan is to appoint 5 Directors who control the campaign including funding so that there is transparency. The required legal issues are complex and this kind of challenge does cost money unfortunately although it costs nothing like court action. It requires more than one person to support it and it requires persistence. The next step is to instruct Counsel to draft the Complaint to the European Commission. The plan is to submit the Complaint as soon as we create membership to the Campaign and instruct Counsel to draft the required document which needs to go to the European Commission. Counsel is very confident about his opinion but we require people to join the campaign if indeed they feel that they want to contribute to changing the way things currently work (the document explains why one may want to join). Please email me should you have any queries.
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Re: Is This Legit - Cyprus Lawyers taken To UK Court

Postby LeeH » 21 Aug 2015 14:49

I wish you the best of luck to you George and your team.
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Re: Is This Legit - Cyprus Lawyers taken To UK Court

Postby GeorgeL » 06 Oct 2015 21:18

Hi all

You will recall I made people aware of the above Campaign.

In summary, Counsel's legal opinion is that the way fees are charged by lawyers in Cyprus, based on fixed, minimum fees is illegal within EU legislation because the practice is anti-competitive. Any overcharged fees imposed in this manner, are null and void according to legal opinion (it's as if they have not been charged), and based on a successful resolution of this matter by the European Commission, there are remedies available to those who have had to pay overcharged fees. These principles were explained more fully in my previous post.

The imposition of minimum fees (minimum does not mean low!) would, for example, apply where someone leaves a WILL - the fee is a fixed percentage of the value of the estate as set out in local regulations passed as law. This could be 5% or indeed higher in some circumstances. The fee is payable out of the amount being left to one's heirs - the number of hours of work done or the complexity of the work involved is not taken into account - the relevant percentages applicable by pre-determined formulae apply irrespective of the work done basically. The Campaign seeks to ensure that this practice of fixed fees stops and charging is competitive (as required by EU legislation).

A limited company has been formed in the UK to progress this matter. The company is called Fairness In Fees Limited. I am pleased to say that the Fairness in Fees Campaign in now in the process of preparing its Complaint to the competition section of the European Commission and the legal team has started work on drafting the Complaint.

As part of this process, we would like to collect evidence of peoples’ experience of dealing with lawyers in Cyprus, and in particular the extent to which they were advised at the outset that it was possible to agree a fee with their lawyer outside the Fixed Fee Regulations. So, what we are seeking is circumstances where, having been told that these are the fees set out (under the Cyprus Bar Association rules) there was the option to negotiate!

Any such experience can be briefly set out by anyone in an email and sent to fairnessinfees@gmail.com (and this doesn’t mean that one has to join the Campaign).

Counsel has advised that the ability to contract outside the regulations is irrelevant to the question of whether this practice constitutes abuse of the system. Nevertheless it will give the legal team some background.

I would be very grateful if you could respond to this or distribute this message to anyone who might be interested. Any help in this matter would be appreciated.

Best wishes

George Lambis

(on behalf of Fairness IN Fees Limited)
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Re: Is This Legit - Cyprus Lawyers taken To UK Court

Postby ronk » 04 Dec 2016 19:02

Very interesting. Can I ask if anyone here knows if there has been any progress since the last post by GeorgeL in October 2015?
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Re: Is This Legit - Cyprus Lawyers taken To UK Court

Postby Nigel-Howarth » 04 Dec 2016 20:30

Hi ronk

Please see http://www.news.cyprus-property-buyers. ... d=00148391

Now waiting for a decision from the EC.

Regards,
Nigel Howarth
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Re: Is This Legit - Cyprus Lawyers taken To UK Court

Postby ronk » 04 Dec 2016 21:46

many thanks Nigel. Any idea of a time frame re the verdict..or is that a silly question?
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