Wollen Michelmore Solicitors Devon

The cost of cheap advice 

As a lawyer I work in a heavily regulated industry and we charge for the provision of a service.  There are always alternative service providers in most professions and ours is no different.  However, cheap advice can be very expensive in the long run.  I attend court on a regular basis and in order to appear in court, you either have to be the claimant, i.e a Landlord or you have to be a lawyer.  The conduct of litigation is deemed a reserved activity and it is criminal offence for any person to carry on a reserved legal activity unless they are entitled to do so.  The claimant, i.e. a landlord is entitled as they are a claimant.  Letting agents and other service providers are not entitled to carry on the conduct of litigation, although it has been quite common for the courts to indulge them, probably on the assumption that they are qualified to do so. 

In one recent case, a landlord chose to use a very cheap eviction service to evict a tenant who owed approximately £10,000 in rent.  In the first hearing, the district judge granted a possession order despite the duty solicitor pointing out to the district judge that in their view the paid service provider was not a lawyer and therefore could not carry out the reserved activity in Court. 

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The matter has now been heard by the high court and the landlords have been ordered to pay the tenant the sum of £13,386 in compensation plus costs. This is because the cheap eviction service is not authorised to provide reserved legal services, yet had done so, which is also a criminal offence. The matter has now been remitted back to the county court for the matter to be re-heard.

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There were other issues with this matter as well, however, the main one is that if you are going to issue proceedings in court, then you need to do it yourself or use an appropriate qualified person.  Cheap advice is not always good advice, and it can be very expensive advice in the long run. This case mainly relates to the landlord and tenant, but the rules applies to all cases in court.  I am not aware of any of the local letting agents who are qualified lawyers.  Some will do the claim forms themselves and others do retain a law firm to provide this service for them. 

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By using a Law firm you have access to a qualified, insured, specialist person who can advise you correctly and represent you in Court if needed.  If you have any queries about this matter then please do not hesitate to email me at the following email address; 

Mark Stokes

mark.stokes@wmlegal.co.uk

Wollen Michelmore’s Dispute Resolution team  have a wealth of experience in  landlord and tenant matters with offices in TorquayExeter , Newton AbbotDartmouth and Barnstaple. If you need any advice regarding leasing your property or with regards to a property you renting get in touch with our team today by calling 01803 213251 or filling out our enquiry form

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