Do I need a solicitor? - What's Your Problem

Do I need a solicitor?

I’m Angie Manning, Founder of What’s Your Problem? and from time to time in my work I speak to professionals who I greatly respect and hear them say something like ‘but they don’t need a solicitor for that, it’s just directions or it’s just a small claim’, but my own view is that if you have a legal problem it’s best to do so, or at the very least get some legal advice. Having met with people who have had neither and got themselves in a pickle at court, I cannot stress how important it is to seek advice.    

The issue of course is that many people can’t afford to pay solicitors’ fees for legal advice and representation and it’s those people that we really want to help in a way that is affordable for them. That’s one of the reasons that (with the help of the National Lottery Community Fund) we have funded free legal advice for clients who contact us for support.

A word about Legal Aid

Legal aid was drastically reduced by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act which came into effect in 2013. Many clients who we assist now would have qualified for free legal advice and representation prior to 2013. That being said, legal aid is still available in some circumstances, so if you have a legal issue please check with a solicitor whether you qualify for legal aid, as that could make all the difference to you. Some solicitors will also offer free legal advice, so it’s worth asking about that too.

So what if I can’t get legal aid and I can’t afford a solicitor?

Please contact us to see if we can fund some free legal advice for you. We can also talk to you about the public access scheme which means you go direct to an expert barrister for advice, representation and drafting, without instructing a solicitor. If we cannot help you to arrange this then we can still support you to represent yourself as a litigant in person. It’s not an ideal situation, but we know that sometimes that is the only option available. If this is the case then we can help you complete the paperwork, comply with deadlines, write a statement and come to court with you.

If I have to represent myself, can you give me legal advice?

Unfortunately not in these circumstances, as we are not legally qualified to and we operate in accordance with very strict ethics. We will do everything we can to help you, but it wouldn’t be fair to give you legal advice when we’re not qualified to do so. Instead we can give you practical support and information to help you make decisions for yourself. In small claims we can come to court and provide you with lay representation if you do not feel that you can represent yourself. In the Family Court and other civil matters we can only offer a Mckenzie Friend service.

What’s a McKenzie Friend?

A McKenzie Friend is someone who comes to court to help you if you do not have legal representation. They don’t have to be qualified and can be a friend or relative of yours. They can provide you with moral support, take notes, help you with your papers and quietly give advice. They are not allowed to speak to the court, question witnesses, manage your case outside of court or act as an agent without the judge’s permission. A good McKenzie Friend can be a great help to you. If you are considering paying a professional McKenzie Friend then it is important to check that they are insured, find out if they follow a code of conduct or if they belong to a membership body. Professional McKenzie Friends are unregulated and do not have to have insurance, so if things go wrong you may not have any protection. That being said, having a good McKenzie Friend can make a big difference to you if you have to represent yourself. A McKenzie Friend will still need permission to come into court with you, but If you are unrepresented and need support, there is a presumption which is in favour of allowing you to have a Mckenzie Friend to support you in court.

My personal preference is that everyone who has a legal issue or has to go to court should have  legal representation and we work very hard to try and achieve this for every client, as we believe that it is the best thing for them. If you need help with a legal issue please get in touch on 01803 524044, so we can discuss how we might be able to help you.

What’s Your Problem Torbay

What’s your problem was set up to make the lives of people in Torbay easier. We offer confidential, affordable help and support with any problem, big or small and our main goal is to solve the problem so that your quality of life is improved.

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