In recent years many new companies have begun advertising online their “legal services”, particularly in relation to litigation. A cursory view of such websites can leave one with the impression that these companies are fully qualified legal professionals and competent to conduct litigation matters on behalf of clients. A closer look tells a different story.
Such companies are not regulated, have unqualified staff with no legal standing and cannot commence or defend legal proceedings in Court. Most fail to implement procedures to adequately protect client money and, perhaps most alarmingly, do not have indemnity insurance to protect their client in the event that an error is made. This means that if something went wrong, a client would have no means of redress except against the “Litigation adviser” company itself (which is likely to be worthless).
Recent cases have shown how damaging unqualified legal advisers can be, in one case leaving their client unable to pursue his full claim for life-changing injuries and permanent disability, together with a legal costs invoice from his “Litigation Adviser” of over £10,000.
Similar issues have arisen with “McKenzie Friends”, who are individuals who support (but must not represent) litigants on a paid or voluntary basis. A study by Leeds Law School and Birmingham City University has found several instances of worrying, biased and misleading advice by Mckenzie Friends who have advised people to ignore or act against the advice of their lawyers.
Being a McKenzie friend is an area of work that requires no qualifications or business set-up costs and is not subject to any external oversight. As such, it is wide open to abuse by unscrupulous individuals.
If you have a litigation matter you would like to discuss with a qualified, competent and trusted professional.
If you have any questions on the above or litigation in general, please contact Michael Shapiro, Head of GSC’s Commercial Litigation & Dispute Resolution, directly on: [email protected] or 0207 822 2246.
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