I am a seaman who filed a labor complaint against my employer before the National Labor Relations Commission. I sought the assistance of a private lawyer, and he said he will charge an amount equivalent to 30 percent of any compensation that may be awarded in our favor in exchange for his services. I just want to know if the amount requested is proper under the circumstances. Thanks. God bless!
The law that addresses your situation is Section 4 of Republic Act (RA) 10706 or the Seafarer’s Protection Act, which states:
“SECTION 4. Imposition of Excessive Fees. — When any contract or arrangement between a seafarer or his/her heirs, and a person who appears for or represents them in any case for recovery of monetary claim or benefit, including legal interest, arising from accident, illness or death before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) or any labor arbiter, the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) or its regional offices or other quasi-judicial bodies handling labor disputes stipulates that the person who appears for or represents them shall be entitled to fees, such fees shall not exceed ten percent (10 percent) of the compensation or benefit awarded to the seafarer or his/her heirs.” (Emphasis supplied)
Clearly, the cited law limits the fees that may be collected from a seafarer. Any person who represents a seafarer or his heirs in any case for recovery of monetary claim or benefit arising from accident, illness or death shall be entitled to fees not to exceed ten percent (10 percent) of the compensation or benefit awarded to the seafarer.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org