Thursday, 1 April 2021

LAWYERS HIKE FEES : US$2000 TO DIVORCE

THE Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) yesterday announced a new fee structure for its members that will see couples intending to divorce paying as much as US$2 000 or its equivalent  — $170 000 in local currency for “uncontested divorces”.

According to the new schedule contained in a circular issued yesterday to its members, the LSZ said lawyers should stick to the set fees, adding that in case they need to adjust the fees, they should consult the council.

The US$2 000 figure for divorce is beyond the reach of many workers, particularly civil servants who are getting far less.

The fees apply only for uncontested divorces and more will be paid for contested divorces according to legal experts.

The person who initiates the divorce, the plaintiff, will need to fork out $102 000 in legal fees while the other party will need to fork out $68 000 for uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is one where there are minimal, if any, disputes.

“Legal practitioners are professionally and legally obliged to charge fees for legal work which are fair and reasonable in all the circumstances,” LSZ said in a circular.

For general professional services, LSZ said charges will vary depending on experience and time spent on the matter.

“The ranges of hourly fees recommended in this tariff are designed to take into account both the varying levels of experience of practitioners and their varying costs of practice,” the circular read in part.

“Legal practitioners are entitled to charge rates which are at the lower or upper margins or anywhere in between these charges.

“The charges will take into consideration time reasonably and actually spent in personal attendance by a legal practitioner in performing his or her mandate, including taking instructions, telephone calls, attendances in court, offices of record and the like, research, preparation, drafting, dictation and perusals of letters and documents.”

For a will, clients will pay US$400 ($34 000) while for lease agreement for residential properties or farms, clients will part with US$300 or one month’s rent while for businesses, clients will pay US$600 or one month’s rent.

General professional fees will be US$30 to $60 for an unregistered law graduate whose name is recorded by the LSZ and US$310 to US$350 for lawyers with over 30 years’ experience.

For an agreement of sale, clients will part with US$500 or a percentage of the selling price for residential properties or farms, while they will be expected to pay US$600 or a month’s rent for businesses.

For company formation, lawyers will charge US$500 while an initial application for liquor licence will now cost US$450. Newsday

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