The Bar Association of Cambodia has written to Justice Minister Ang Vong Vattana requesting that an official price be set for photocopies of court case files, claiming that court clerks are taking advantage of the current system by charging lawyers extortionate amounts.
The letter, dated October 30 and obtained Tuesday, informs Mr. Vong Vattana of “difficulties in requesting the copying of documents from related case files because the clerks who are in charge of the case files demand too much.”
“The prices set by the clerks in this manner causes disputes between lawyers and clerks and disputes between the parties and the clerks,” says the letter.
“Moreover, the demands for these fees for copying documents in the case files without a set price index might be considered by the public to be corruption in our court system,” it adds.
Bun Honn, president of the Bar Association, said that lawyers often complain to him saying that they are asked for $20 to $30 for photocopies of documents. He also said that the Justice Ministry should establish an official list of prices to avoid such a circumstance arising.
Mr. Honn explained that the Bar Association had decided to send the formal complaint to Mr. Vong Vattana after the issue was raised at its annual congress on October 16.
Sam Pracheameanith, chief of Mr. Vong Vattana’s cabinet, said Tuesday that the Justice Ministry would look into the suggestions made in the letter.
“Generally, to set up a price for public services, a joint proclamation of the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Economics and Finance is required,” he said
Mr. Pracheameanith added that Mr. Vong Vattana would look into the case and discuss the issue with Finance Minister Aun Porn Moniroth.
Tep Nimol, a court clerk in Ratanakkiri province, said that most clerks do not demand money from lawyers but that some lawyers provide generous tips.
“Some lawyers who work on big cases, of course, are kind so they sometimes give us $20 or $30 for the copied documents,” Ms. Nimol said. “But very often they give us only $2.50 or $5 so we only have a few thousand [riel] left after paying for the photocopying costs.”