Friday, January 04, 2008

Not-so-tender trap

"The only ones that win are the solicitors". So says one of the headlines on divorce-solicitor-trap.co.uk, a website set up by divorcée Lucille Turner, who says she had such a bad experience with her divorce that she set up the site as part of a campaign to reform the law. She says the site was primarily created:
as a call to the thousands of women and men who approached a legal practitioner at the time of divorce, only to find themselves exploited instead of assisted; who found that their divorce solicitors, rather than defending their interests at a vulnerable time, profited from their situation to the fullest extent.
The site also offers advice upon how to get the best from your solicitor and, in an echo of the Child Support Agency, a 'Name and Shame' page for aggrieved clients to name their solicitor.

I'm not going to defend every member of my profession. I'm sure there are solicitors out there who expand the work to fill their billing targets. However, to return to the original quote, I believe that the biggest problem in escalating costs is the failure of parties to agree matters when advised. Of course, this may not be helped by poor advice or an adversarial approach by their solicitors. I do think that the law can be reformed to reduce litigation - see this recent post. Meanwhile, the best advice I can give is to instruct a solicitor who is a member of Resolution and should therefore conduct matters in a constructive and non-confrontational way. Resolution members should also advise clients of the availability of mediation.

2 comments:

  1. Hello John,
    Comment from Lucille from Divorce Solicitor Trap. It was nice to see a response to my site from the legal community. I would welcome any feedback from yourself or your colleagues about information on the site. I will paste this link into our news page.
    What really concerns me is that, while I accept that there are good and bad solicitors out there, the current system does little to protect consumers from the unscrupulous ones. In fact the current charging system adopted by the majority of solicitor firms encourages exploitation. What guarantees can the Resolution group offer consumers?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Lucille,

    No guarantees, I'm afraid, but the Resolution approach is far more likely to lead to lower costs. You mentioned on your site the possibility of fixed fees. Unfortunately, it is difficult to see how this would work in divorce cases, as it is usually impossible to foresee with any great degree of precision how much work will be involved. We are, of course, required to give estimates, but these can usually only be a broad range. The client can, however, set fee limits so that the solicitor cannot exceed the current limit without his/her client's authority. Your site also offers other useful advice.

    John.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post. Constructive comments are always welcome, even if they do not coincide with my views! Please note, however, that comments will be removed or not published if I consider that:
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