The Ministry of Justice yesterday warned of fake lawyers, urging people to consult the nation’s online list of qualified attorneys before hiring legal counsel, after a court convicted a man of misrepresenting himself as an attorney.
The ministry issued the warning after the Keelung District Court this week found a man surnamed Hu (胡) of fraudulently representing himself as a lawyer for more than three years.
The 50-year-old man did not have a license to act as an attorney and was not permitted to practice law, prosecutors said.
He was found guilty of breaching the Attorney Regulation Act (律師法), they said.
Hu, a repeat offender who had previously been caught acting as a lawyer, received a three-month prison sentence, which could be commuted to a fine.
Hu, operating out of a law firm in Taipei, had taken on three cases from 2013 to 2016 on behalf of a man surnamed Wang (王), who headed an advertising agency and had been embroiled in lawsuits over business disputes, the ruling said.
An investigation found that Hu had borrowed a license to engage in the fraud and open his law firm.
According to Taiwan Bar Association guidelines and Article 3 of the act, a lawyer is required to pass the bar examination and complete pre-service training for attorneys before qualifying for a license to practice law.
Cases of people misrepresenting themselves as lawyers has been a persistent problem, ministry officials said, adding that these individuals are often smooth-talking con artists who have some knowledge or personal experience with the legal system.
They often claim to be qualified to practice law and charge high legal consultation fees, they said.
A few years ago, a man surname Lin (林) handled numerous litigation cases and even produced legal documents and civil complaints for the court before his fraud was revealed, but not before he had earned more than NT$10 million (US$343,336 at the current exchange rate), they said.
In another case, a man surnamed Wu (吳), who purchased a counterfeit attorney’s license, launched his career by appearing on television talk shows as a legal expert, they said.
Wu was eventually convicted of forgery by the New Taipei District Court and received a 20-day prison sentence, which was commuted to a NT$20,000 fine, they said.
The ministry has a list of qualified of attorneys at its Web site: https://lawyerbc.moj.gov.tw/.
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