Quack lawyers and impersonators have invaded Embu county and are defrauding residents, an association warned yesterday.
Embu County Bar Association secretary Njeru Ithiga said the region has a problem that must be fixed urgently to protect the legal profession against intruders who compromise the justice system.
He said the untrained individuals fleece residents and the trend must be stopped and culprits prosecuted.
Ithiga said many people lose their cases because they rely on quacks instead of professional lawyers.
Some unsuspecting residents pay a lot of money, only to be issued with substandard documents for use in courts, the association said.
It told residents to demand practice certificates before they contract any person to represent them in any lawsuit. It will launch a drive to educate the public on the best ways to know whether one is an amateur or a qualified practitioner.
Ithiga said some quacks have forged stamps bearing names of some lawyers. They use the fake stamps to prepare documents such as affidavits, he said.
“Some of these masqueraders have been charging double the fees we charge, yet they don’t represent their clients or guide them effectively the way we do. The victims end up using a lot of money for nothing,” Ithiga said.
He said others charge low rates to lure poor litigants. Ithiga said some quacks are so daring that they go to courts to represent their clients. But they don’t go far as some are discovered and jailed, he said.
The association said some lay lawyers misuse the power of attorney to represent the sick or those physically incapacitated. It warned residents against falling prey to fraud.
Professional lawyers are guided by regulations so they work in the interest of their clients, Ithiga said. They also have easily identifiable physical addresses where they can be traced, unlike the cheats who use briefcase offices or operate from backstreet corridors, he said.
The legal profession is one of the most lucrative in the job market. This makes it a target of those seeking to make a killing through fraud.
In Kenya, a person must have at least a bachelor degree in law and some form of post-graduate legal education to be called to the bar in line with the requirements of the Advocates act.
The Law Society of Kenya is a premier bar association with membership of all practicing advocates, presently numbering more than 14,000.
It has a duty to empower the profession and members to ensure quality and robust legal practice. It also promotes the rule of law and assists members, the government and the public in matters relating to administration of justice.