On 14 October, we joined the Law Society on Twitter to discuss the benefits and value that clients can receive from instructing a solicitor, rather than choosing to deal with the issue on their own. If you were not able to follow the chat, here is how Gemma Horner answered the questions.
1. What are the most common issues that occur when someone chooses to deal with a legal issue alone?
As a litigator, we often see clients that have commenced legal action on their own without following the correct procedural steps. Many types of dispute follow what is called a pre-action protocol. These set out the steps which you should follow before issuing proceedings at Court. Where someone has not complied with the pre-action protocol and later takes the claim to court, they may face criticism from the court. This can often lead to costs orders against the person who did not comply.
We sometimes find that people who have issued proceedings without instructing a solicitor do not provided sufficient information in the Particulars of Claim or Defence. Sometimes they do not provide the correct legal or factual background to their claim or defence. When a claim has not been set out or defended correctly, it can be difficult to amend that document at a later date. Even if the Court gives you permission to amend the document, the Court will likely order that you pay the costs your opponent incurs as a result.
2. Taking a DIY approach to dealing with legal issues can be seen as a way to save on costs, how does your legal advice provide clients with value for money?
As solicitors, we have the knowledge and expertise to advise clients upon the issues relevant to their dispute. Seeking early advice may mean that a client only pursues disputes that are legally (and financially) worth fighting. A more focussed approach will be more cost effective as you do not waste time on arguments or issues that are not viable.
Without legal advice, people often find themselves jumping quickly into court proceedings. This can be a costly route to resolving a dispute. A solicitor would provide options for how best to resolve your particular case. There are often many alternative, cost effective ways to resolve a dispute, without incurring the costs of legal proceedings.
Solicitors will give you clear advice on costs. This means that you can make an informed decision on how you wish to proceed.
3. Why is it important to give tailored and unique advice to clients?
Every client’s case is different and personal to them. Two clients with similar issues may not want the same outcome and there are often a number of different ways to reach the client’s desired objective. In understanding each client, we can give them tailored advice to suit their requirements
4. What are the key times in life someone should speak to a solicitor?
We would encourage people to seek the advice of a solicitor whenever they are dealing with a legal issue.
For example, we would urge you to speak to a wills specialist if you need a will. It is also worth reviewing your will with a solicitor when you experience key life moments such as buying a house, getting married or having children.
A solicitor will also help you move house, or remortgage. They can assist you to set up your new business and get you started in your commercial premises. Solicitors can also help if you find yourself in a dispute; whether with a neighbour or landlord, a professional that had done some work for you, or perhaps someone who owes you money.
5. What would you say to someone who is considering dealing with a legal issue alone rather than consulting a solicitor?
Solicitors are highly qualified and usually specialise in an area of law. A solicitor can give you accurate advice about your potential claim. By dealing with a legal issue alone you run the risk of making errors in the way you handle it. Those errors can then result in the matter taking longer to complete and additional costs being incurred in the long run to rectify any errors made.
If you have a legal issue, call us on 0800 988 7756. We offer a free initial discussion and will let you know what we can do to assist.