Over billing is not overcharging and is not an offence

I keep pondering over this statement and keep asking myself if it makes any sense? Is over billing overcharging? And why is overcharging an offence and over billing is not?

The Sunday Times gave nearly one page to Salma Khalik’s article with the title, ‘High court slashes SMC’s claims, calling them EXORBITANT, UNREASONABLE’.  I like the big fonts and bold treatment of the words exorbitant and unreasonable. I wonder if there is a deeper meaning to it. Other than slashing down the high bills, there were no penalties for overcharging. Oops, correction, it is over billing, not overcharging. I am so tempted to look at all the dictionaries to see if there is any difference or similarities between the two words.

Susan Lim was found guilty for overcharging the Brunei royalties $24.8m for 7 months of work. She was fined $10,000, suspended for practice for 3 years and to pay cost to SMC. SMC took Susan Lim to task for overcharging. And Susan Lim’s husband took the SMC to court for overcharging. Sorry, it is over billing. The word overcharging keeps bugging me and I could not shake it off. 

Ok, Susan Lim did some work for her client and sent her a bill for her services. In the SMC case, they took Susan Lim to court and won and sent her a bill, not for services rendered but for time and effort spent on the case. So it was not a case of charging a client for services. I think this is the difference between over billing and overcharging.

Now, how much did the SMC over billed? Four cases were highlighted in Salma’s report. 1. from $900,000 to $180,000, 2. from $235,000 to $22.000, 3. from $42,000 to $5,000 and 4. from $150,000 to $70,000. These add up to $1,327,000 and cut to $277,000.

In the same report, Salma mentioned that last year a bill of $1m was cut to $370,000 and last month a bill of $1.3m was slashed to $317,000. I will not try to rationalise the numbers but just using the last two numbers, the two bills came to $2.3m which ended up as $687,000 or an over billing of $1,613,000, or about 220% of $687,000.

In Susan Lim’s case, the court ruled that there is ethical ground not to overcharge a client. I quote, ‘Overcharging can still occur even if there is a prior agreement on fees as ethical obligations of a doctor must “prevail over contractual obligations”. I am not sure if a court would make a similar ruling on overcharging when lawyers over billed or overcharged their clients.  Would ethics be an important factor in legal billings? The decision by the court is between the SMC and Susan Lim.

Would it be over charging if the case is between the SMC and their lawyers when it becomes the lawyer billing the SMC for services rendered? So far the most authoritative body, the Law Society had made a statement that over billing is not overcharging and is an acceptable or normal practice. There is no wrongdoing involved. So the court just slashed the bills and end of story. No penalties or fines or suspension of practices are warranted.

Would the SMC sue its legal representatives and those who stood as witnesses for overcharging? If these parties accepted the court’s decision, there is no more case to follow up, I think, end of story. What if these parties continue to demand payment from the SMC?

Kopi Level - Yellow


Anonymous said...

"So far the most authoritative body, the Law Society had made a statement that over billing is not overcharging and is an acceptable or normal practice."

Tiok lah. But then the ultimate authoritative body is still the govt, tio bo?

And if the Law Society is not what it should be, the Govt will step in to make it right. I remember it happened long time ago when Francis Seow was the Law Society President.

Anonymous said...

"What's wrong with collecting more money?", Lee Kuan Yew

Anonymous said...

"What's wrong with collecting more money?"
Lee Kuan Yew


Anonymous said...

"But then the ultimate authoritative body is still the govt, tio bo?"
Anon 10:56 am

Ya lor, that's why so sayang (wasted) the strongest Sinkie opposition party is not even ready to be govt, when Sinkies badly need a new and better govt.

Or is it they don't want to be govt? If so, then what's the point(WP) being forever in opposition?

patriot said...

Like this Comment.


Matilah_Singapura said...

Over billing occurs every day lah. It is part of the normal practice of doing business in the PRIVATE SECTOR.

End of story. Susan Lim might not be a "nice person". But she didn't do anything criminal.

What the fuck is the court wasting time over this?

>> "What's wrong with collecting more money?", Lee Kuan Yew

I agree. There is nothing "wrong". No one forced you to go to that particular doctor.

Free market lah. Caveat emptor lah.

Anonymous said...

sorry, my English standard is very poor, not o level yet.....

ah huat painted my living room.....

when ah huat invoiced me for painting the entire house by mistake, can I consider this over billing me for works not done.....

but is ah huat invoiced me 328% more than the market painting rate for just painting my living room, can I consider this overcharging me......

please teach me...

thank you very much....

JL said...

Greed overrides shame
what is shame vs $$$$

Anonymous said...

Why split hair over overcharging and overbilling? Alvin Yeo overcharged the SMC which overbilled Susan Lim and the court ruled she was overcharged. In this case, it was the Law Society that tried to murky things up to save their own hide!

Anonymous said...

The elites are so corrupt that they would tell you murder is ok if committed by them.

oldhorse42 said...

When one goes to see a doctor, the latter charges you for his service. You are expected to pay up straightaway.

If the doctor charge you for work not done, say for treating a cough when one does not have a cough, it is over charge and is punishable.

Wheras when one see a lawyer who by the way sounds just like liar, one gets billed for service rendered and given time to settle the bill.

If the bill is excessive, it is overbilling and no offence because no money changes hand yet.

Lawyer writes the law and understands it better and can twist abd manipulate it to his advantage.

Sauce for the gander is not sauce for the goose.

agongkia said...

Not in a position to say whether its an offence or not.
I know of a case where a company advertise regularly for recruitment.He use to pay once about 3 month as there are few ad. so as not to waste on cheque and save the green.He would not mind paying interest.
Once after he paid,someone using a hand phone call him to say he has an outstanding legal fee for the letter of demand which he never receive,and later receive a letter from a law firm to ask for payment of less than hundred dollar.
Is this a spam or should he pay if he has not receive any form of letter of demand?

Anonymous said...

lee kuan yew?

Knn gecko chou chee by

Live long kuanyew ... look at the quality of your descendant ...

Anonymous said...

The diff is over billing is not an offence but over charging is. That is why one party kena and the other party is not mah. Tio bo?

Anonymous said...

Paying tax is normal and a duty of every working citizen. But collecting more money from the people without basis is utter greed,insanity, grossly unethical , illogical, wild and mad. So it is very wrong and sinful to say "What is wrong in collecting more money from the people?" and implement it in the form of unsolicited COEs,indiscriminate ERPs, high GSTs, high PUB bills and various other unreasonable taxes to inflict suffering on the people at large. A government led by people with such sadistic and deranged minds should be booted out of office because it will lead the country to eventual destruction when all professional bodies like the doctors, surgeons, lawyers , accountants , bankers exetra follow the extreme greed ethos of the government and become sinfully unethical, illogical and irresponsible in every respect.


Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi, Some of you like to curse and swear at people. I have two reasons why it is not good to do so. One, swearing at people is not good for your own karma. Two, you can be traced unless you posting from overseas.

Matilah_Singapura said...


»» Two, you can be traced unless you posting from overseas. ««

Any internet connection can be traced. In fact, all connections are logged. There is no "overseas" on the internet, as the internet is everywhere.

Being "overseas" doesn't automatically protect you. Just try using a stolen credit card and try to purchase goods from a merchant in another cuntry -- see what happens to you when they catch you, and they will.

What you need to do is to MASK YOUR IDENTITY, then you'll be safer to curse and swear until your fingers cramp up or your keyboard breaks due to the incessant and violent pounding. A masked identity makes it impossible to associate an internet connection with a particular user, by using intermediary servers (e.g. VPN, Proxy, SSH tunnel, Tor network) to mask the identities and activities of (paranoid/ security conscious) users.

If you look at RB's live feed on the left side of the home page, you will see that at around the time of this post is a connection from Romania -- that is me, although I am at the moment drunk and naked in Perth.

»» is not good for your own karma. ««

Just like "sin", heaven, hell or "miracles", or a "good-evil dichotomy", there is no such thing as "karma".

In the realm of human activity, there is only human nature.

Anonymous said...

If you can't see retribution at work, well, keep doing what you like.

Retribution is unfolding right before our eyes, some get it faster, some slower. No one can run away from retribution. What you sowed you shall reap.

Anonymous said...

Those born WITHOUT conscience will not care about Karma, also known as retribution.
They will say you die your bizness.
All they care is vanity.

b said...

The law is written by people and the justice system is managed by people. Whether those people are perfect, 100% independent, just and fair and good, I think we all do not need to be PHDs to know the answer.

b said...

"Over billing is not overcharging and is not an offence"

- In other words, a cunt is not a pussy and is not a genital organ. Buy it?