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Demonetisation, the great leveller

V. Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on January 15, 2018

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Doctors and lawyers also hit as fee income drops sharply

Demonetisation may have impacted Kerala’s merchandise trade badly. But professionals, too, especially in the medical and legal fields, are not insulated from the emerging situation. The currency shortage has been a great leveller.

For Vikas (name changed), a leading lawyer in the Kerala High Court, the government’s demonetisation announcement came as a “bolt from the blue” as it crippled the income received from clients as fees. He has witnessed a drop of 30-40 per cent in the last few days.

But there have been surprises too. Some litigants -- who deliberately avoided paying fees for earlier appearances in court -- have come forward to pay the arrears in old currency. According to him, he has no option but to accept the payments or the clients could vanish without paying his dues.

Many lawyers whom the BusinessLine met shared a similar view, saying that currency withdrawal has affected the legal fraternity, including cash transactions in courts. The emerging situation has forced many of them to accept part payments through bank/ NEFT accounts on the assurance that the remainder would be be paid in cash at a later date in order to avoid the tax net.

Asked about fees from poor clients with no access to bank accounts/ online payments, a senior lawyer said, “I will appear for them without charging any fee for the time being. I am sure that my clients will not betray me and pay the fees once the currency situation improves”.

Doctors with clinical practice are also facing the brunt of the currency crunch in high-value denominations.

“There has been a 40-50 per cent drop in the consultation fees ever since the government announcement came. Since my patients are finding it difficulty to receive adequate currency, I will not insist on consultation fees and have even exempted them from making payments,” a senior cardiologist in a leading hospital in Kochi said. There have also been instances of the postponement of routine follow-ups in hospitals, he added.

Published on November 15, 2016

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