BANGKOK – A lawyer who allegedly cheated a 14 year-old accident victim and her family out of their compensation is now facing the risk of losing his licence and legal career.
The Lawyers Council of Thailand said on Monday that the alleged offence by Pisit Sammalert was so serious that the council might remove him from its list of qualified lawyers.
“We are preparing to launch an investigation,” said the council’s vice president, acting Major Sombat Wongkamhaeng, who also chairs the Thai Bar’s committee on legal help for people.
Sombat and Justice Ministry deputy permanent secretary Tawatchai Thaikyo have also announced plans to help the victims – Porntip Chantharat and her wheelchair-bound daughter, Pattarada “Beam” Kaewpong.
In 2005, a truck crashed into a pickup carrying the family in an accident that killed Porntip’s husband and seriously injured both her and their daughter.
Due to spinal injuries sustained in the accident, Pattarada has since need a wheelchair in order to move around.
In 2014, a court ordered the truck owner to pay Bt5 million in compensation to her family.
However, according to Porntip, her lawyer – Pisit – persuaded her to sign papers assigning him to handle everything for her, because he said it would not be convenient for her to pick up monthly compensation payments herself.
She agreed, but ended up getting just a little over Bt200,000.
In 2015, she lodged a complaint against the lawyer, but he successfully persuaded her to withdraw it by giving a false promise that he would give her Bt3 million.
“We are sorry to hear that the victims have been taken advantage of. We will definitely help them,” Tawatchai said.
The Justice Ministry, the Thai Bar, and the Lawyers Council of Thailand will pursue the case against Pisit with a view to helping the family reclaim their rightful compensation, he added.
Pisit has a record of professional misbehaviour, having violated lawyer ethics and being slapped with a two-year ban during his career.
Available records suggest he was declared insolvent in 2004, too.