Cut price legal services can prove very costly!

Published: 01/08/2013

Cut-price legal advice from operators outside of the regulated market could leave clients with greater expense in putting right the mistakes this can cause. A recent report by the Legal Ombudsman highlights that operators using DIY documentation are leaving people exposed with nowhere to complain if things go wrong and, importantly with nowhere to turn for compensation for any losses they sustain.

‘There are about 3 million users of legal services each year’ explained Eddie Goldsmith, Senior Partner at Goldsmith Williams ‘and more than 130,000 providers in England and Wales who operate within the “alternative” market, including those whose primary business is accountancy, architecture and probate. We’ve become aware that the DIY documents offered by these companies at an apparently cheap price, to provide wills or building plans for example, can seem a very attractive option in these days of tight consumer budgets.

I’m sure that if the public knew that anyone could set themselves up to provide legal services such as will-writing or employment law advice without any legal qualifications or insurance they would be astonished. Particularly when a qualified lawyer would advise that using documents provided in these circumstances could be fraught with danger.

Firstly standard documents do not take account of the particular circumstances of the client and may well be of limited value. Secondly, if things do go wrong these providers aren’t regulated and so correcting any mistakes or securing compensation for any financial losses incurred will not be possible. An established law firm such as my own is overseen by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority which has implemented a framework and principles which all law firms must abide by. These set out standards of performance, together with a procedure to deal with any client complaints.

I call for all providers of legal services to be required to be regulated.

Clients would therefore have the reassurance when dealing with a regulated law firm that their interests are protected and the law firm they select operates to a high standard.

As in life, so in law – you get what you pay for. Cut price legal services will often turn out to be a false economy.’

Content correct at time of publication

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