Lawyers advised: Don’t use credit cards to pay fees

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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ATTORNEYS have again been advised not to use their credit cards to pay their annual subscription fees and contributions to the compensation fund via the Judiciary’s CourtPay system.

A notice was sent to them on Thursday, advising them to make over-the-counter payments instead.

On September 21, Newsday reported on attorneys’ complaints that they were being charged in US dollars when using credit cards to pay their fees and contributions.

An advisory from the Law Association said it appeared when members used a credit card, the fees were charged in US dollars. The association said it was uncertain whether the US-dollar charge was the same as the TT amount.

On Thursday, the association’s treasurer Patricia Dindyal told members a letter had been sent to the Chief Justice for confirmation that fees would not be charged in US dollars.

Dindyal said the association was recently told members had charges to their credit cards that exceeded the amount that should have been charged.

She advised them not to use credit cards to pay their fees while the issue is being resolved.

“It is recommended that members, instead, use the voucher payment system or go to the accounts department at the Judiciary to transact over-the-counter payments…

The LATT reminded its members that the Judiciary is statutorily empowered to collect these sums on behalf of the LATT and therefore, the Judiciary and its payment processing service provider, WiPay, are responsible for any resulting discrepancies in credit card charges.

“In the interest of our members,” it said, “we are engaging the Judiciary to resolve the situation.”

On September 19, the Judiciary was asked to clarify whether attorneys were being charged in US dollars as they complained, and whether, as some attorneys said, payments were being routed out of TT.

There has been no response to Newsday’s questions.

Last week, one commercial bank owned up to a credit-card processing error that affected merchants, including PriceSmart, which saw local credit-card usage at some merchants inadvertently being processed as US-dollar instead of TT-dollar transactions.

The reimbursements to their accounts fell short of the original figure.