In 2004 and following an “inspection trip” to Cyprus, subsidised by a property introduction company, my mother signed a sale agreement to purchase an apartment in Paphos off-plan from a major developer.

The property was completed in 2006 at which point she made the last of the staged payments so the property is fully paid-for.

She had no will in Cyprus and to get her estate in order, I carefully asked the solicitor who was handling the purchase of the property what the procedure would be. I say carefully as this solicitor was appointed by my mother on the recommendation of the property developer selling the apartment and for whom he also acted, a situation with which I had always felt a little uncomfortable.

His reply was to simply say that without a will, the estate will go to the surviving spouse and children, each in equal shares.

Believing this to be a simple process as it would be in the UK with absolutely no assets in Cyprus other than the apartment and given that the solicitor’s fees to date had been reasonable in my opinion, I asked him to administer the estate so that the sale agreement could be transferred to the names of myself and my two brothers (we had yet to receive the title deeds and we still await them to this day). To cement my satisfaction that all would be ok, he suggested that I make a local will at a cost of CY£150 which I again considered to be reasonable although thinking about it, he didn’t ask my brothers to make a local will.

In summary though, I had absolutely no reason to believe I would be charged an extortionate amount of money to administer the estate and at no point was I given any indication of these fees. In 2009, I emailed the solicitor to say I would be in Cyprus in the next few weeks if he needed anything. He replied soon after to say that the administration of the estate was almost complete and I could make an appointment to visit him during my trip to sign some documents and declarations. Within the same email, he presented his fees “assessed in accordance with the regulations” and calculated at almost €17,000, reducing to just under €15,000 after the deduction of a discount and the addition of out of pocket expenses and VAT.

I have just read the article about you challenging the Cyprus Bar Association on price fixing. Price-fixing is far from the only anti-competitive thing they do.
Have you read their "code of conduct" regulations for their members in full? It is available on their website and I am also attaching it to this message for your convenience (both English and Greek texts).

It is an unbelievable read. While presumably the whole reason for the existance of such organisations is to ensure the provision of best possible service quality for clients, yet CBA's regulations are clearly directed towards extracting maximum profits from clients and preventing clients from switching lawyers if they are not satisfied with the service they receive. For example: "39. Advocates cannot succeed other advocates in defending the interests of a client in a specific case unless they have notified their colleague and made sure that the expenses and fees owed to him have been settled, subject to the provisions stated in Regulation 40. But this obligation does not render the advocate responsible for the payment of the
fees and expenses owed to his predecessor."

Can you believe this??? Any lawyer can essentially hold their client hostage as long as they bill them whatever they want and the client does not pay. As long as there is any outstanding dispute in regards to payments to a lawyer, a client can not hire another lawyer to represent them. (no other lawyer is allowed to take on this client by CBA's regulations).

On the 8th December 2007 we paid him £3,948.50 fee as was initially agreed. On the 25/08/10 he then took e12, 000 for his fees and then another e40.000 and then another e60.000.

We were never given a chance to discuss his fees; he just took the money without our consent. We made it clear in writing and face to face that we disagreed with his fees. There were some debts to be paid, i.e. hospital fees, taxes. He gave us some breakdown of his fees, but they made no sense.

We have asked for statements from the banks several times and I even instructed a solicitor to get them, but he has refused to date.

We have managed through lots of stress to get him to pay us £86.000 paid to each beneficiary in 4 separate payments over the 8 years this case has been going on.

No indication of the fees was given in the first instance other than the fee of £3,948.50 which was what he asked for the work we asked him to do i.e. pay put the money from the bank accounts and pay of the debts. No negotiate the fees was made at any point.

I have now spoken to Mr X who is also a chartered accountant, in this case acting for an intestate estate in Cyprus, which has been charged for 360,000 Euros (!) under the fixed fees regulations.

I am resident in the UK and currently facing a very large bill for solicitor's fees. My late mother, who was British but lived in Cyprus, appointed her solicitor as executor of her estate so I have been obliged to use his services. The account currently stands at €28,000 on an estate valued at €137,000. I would be very interested to hear more about Fairness in Fees and any progress that may have been made.

I have read an article in today's Cyprus Mail about a new organisation called Fairness in Fees which is considering a challenge to the present system used by lawyers in Cyprus with regard to fees charged for out of court cases. Many people I know here in Cyprus  are presently considering updating their wills in the light of a change in the law here regarding the new (to British expats) law regarding the right to leave assets to beneficiaries of our own choice. In cases where a Cyprus property is owned this has become necessary in many cases. The lawyers here are set to make a killing in the fees they can charge for the probate of the will at a later date. My lawyer told me that most lawyers charge about 12% for this.