Investigation into Lawyer Overcharging Migrant Worker

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The Law Society is investigating a complaint against an Auckland lawyer for charging a migrant worker $26,000. The worker now faces financial difficulties due to the exorbitant fees. The employer is also upset by the situation, as the high fee will leave the worker in a precarious financial situation.

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The Law Society is currently conducting an investigation into a complaint made against an Auckland lawyer who allegedly charged a migrant worker $26,000 for helping him find a job in New Zealand. This incident is linked to the Accredited Employer Work Visa, which has been a source of controversy in recent times. According to documents, the migrant worker was obligated to make payments of $250 every Friday for a period of two years. The migrant worker, who had hoped to build a life in New Zealand, is now facing severe financial difficulties as a result of the exorbitant fees charged by the lawyer.

The employer of the migrant worker sought the services of Kenton Chambers Lawyers in Auckland to assist in finding a chef. However, after the migrant worker started working, he learned that the law firm had charged him $26,000 as a fee for the job placement. This revelation has angered the employer, who claims that it will leave the employee in a precarious financial situation. The invoice indicates that the $26,000 must be paid in weekly instalments of $250 for two years, with an additional $50 late fee.

An email correspondence between the law firm and the complainant shows that Kenton Chambers Lawyers offered to reduce their fee to $16,400, but only if it was paid as a lump sum. It is understood that the migrant worker did sign a Terms of Engagement letter, but he did not expect such a high fee of $26,000.

Newshub attempted to contact the principal of the law firm, Ken Oh, through email, phone, and in person, but received no response except for an email stating that it would be inappropriate to comment due to the ongoing investigation by the Law Society. In an earlier email to the complainant, Oh offered to discuss any confusion or concerns.

Both Immigration NZ and the Law Society declined to provide specific comments on the case. However, Immigration NZ did inform Newshub that it is prohibited for employers or agents to charge extra for the employment of any individual. Legislation also states that legal fees must be reasonable and fair.

Lawyer Alistair McClymont explained that various factors contribute to determining legal fees, including the complexity and success of the case, as well as the specialised expertise required. However, he stated that in cases related to accredited employer work visas, where the process is typically straightforward, fees generally range from $1000 to $3000.

The Law Society is now tasked with considering the complaint, and regardless of the outcome, this incident has undoubtedly created a difficult start to life in New Zealand for the migrant worker involved.

author headshot Michael Yoon
Last modified on 10 February 2024 by
Michael Yoon
Michael has been working as a lawyer in New Zealand since 2006. Over the years, he has successfully helped thousands of clients to get their desired outcome. Clients find Michael knowledgeable, approachable and professional — a trusted expert.

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