Public warned against turning to ‘law on the cheap’

Posted by Paul Barnes

Partner, Kirwans Solicitors

Thu 02nd, May

A leading solicitor is urging those representing themselves in court to ‘steer clear’ of unqualified legal advisors whose intervention could do more harm than good.

Paul Barnes, Head of Dispute Resolution at Kirwans law firm, said that sweeping legal aid cuts had led many people to try and access ‘law on the cheap’ by turning to unqualified, unregulated and uninsured legal advisers such as McKenzie Friends.

Traditionally providing informal advice, taking notes, and giving support in court, McKenzie Friends don’t need to be legally trained or have any professional legal qualifications.

But some McKenzie Friends now charge a fee for their support, and claim levels of experience and knowledge that they may not actually possess.

The dangers of using such unqualified legal advisers have become clear as a result of cases that have hit the headlines.

Last year an English couple, acting on advice from a McKenzie Friend, brought their child into Ireland in defiance of an interim care order and ended up in court. In another case, a man who had suffered permanent disability after three plastic bags were left inside him during an operation at the Basildon and Thurrock NHS Foundation Trust was able to pursue only part of a claim against the trust after acting on negligent advice given by George Rusz – who described himself as an ‘experienced legal professional’ and his firm Troy Lucas.

As a result, in a key ruling, the High Court found that the duty and standard of care should be determined by that which the unqualified legal advisor assumed – in this case that of an ‘experienced legal professional’, and went on to order Mr Rusz to pay £263,759 to Mr Wright, plus £73,200 costs as a result.

Paul said: “From groceries to energy suppliers, we’re all used to shopping around for a bargain nowadays. But when it comes to the law, there really is no substitute for a qualified legal professional who carries insurance and is regulated by an industry body.

“Those seeking to save money by scrimping on legal advice could find that it ends up costing them dear.”

Leave a comment

Merseyrail explain how they're protecting customers as people begin to use public transport

Mon 19th, Apr

We asked some of our local operators what steps they are taking as more passengers gradually return to the network. Andy Heath from Merseyrail joins us to discuss Merseyrail's steps.

Arriva Merseyside discuss the steps they are taking to ensure passenger safety

Mon 19th, Apr

We asked some of our local operators what steps they are taking as more passengers gradually return to the network. Howard Farrell joins us from Arriva Merseyside.

Successful Credit Management During a Pandemic – Part Three

Sun 25th, Oct

Welcome to the 3rd of our series of blogs to help you improve your ‘Order to Cash’ process in a practical way and reduce the negative effects of the pandemic on businesses.

Race to Net Zero Blog

Thu 15th, Oct

Guest blog by CGI’s Pulina Abeywickrama, SME Senior Consultant | Agile Project Manager

Successful Credit Management During a Pandemic – Part Two

Tue 13th, Oct

Welcome to the 2nd of our series of blogs to help you improve your ‘Order to Cash’ process in a practical way and reduce the negative effects of the pandemic on businesses.

Why now is the right time to take IoT seriously

Mon 27th, Jul

Guest blog by Alan Nunn – Communications Subject Matter Expert at CGI

How IoT can create a sustainable future for water

Mon 27th, Jul

Guest blog by Graham Hainsworth – Director Consulting in CGI’s Water Sector Business

Happy 9th Birthday 6th Door Ltd

Tue 19th, May

As I’m leaning on the stand-up desk in my makeshift home office, that over the weeks has been turned into a video and podcast recording studio

How to take back control of your water costs

Fri 13th, Mar

While most businesses already have a comprehensive strategy in place for their electricity and gas consumption, water management is often overlooked.

How to choose an energy consultancy

Fri 13th, Mar

Most business owners recognise the advantages of shopping around for the best energy deal, but without the time, resource and expertise to find the best tariff, it can be an almost impossible task.