September 20th, 2018
Looking to make a holiday sickness claim? Think you might need legal help?
Holiday companies are cracking down on claims that are made dishonestly and you could go to prison if you make a claim that is not true. But, if you have a genuine claim, you might be wondering how to find a solicitor with the right skills to help you.
To search for a firm of solicitors by name, town or area of law (for holiday sickness expertise look under personal injury) visit the Law Society’s site, or to search for a Chartered Legal Executive, visit the CILEx Regulation site.
If you’re not sure whether you need a legal professional, check out what we’ve said here about sources of legal advice.
Once you’ve found a firm that you think might be able to help, ask them these questions before giving them your case.
Do I have a claim?
You need to give all the facts and background to the lawyer so that they can help you.
You should deal directly with the lawyer yourself. Don’t let anyone else deal with the lawyer for you, unless you have asked them to.
How long will the case take?
How long the case is going to take will depend on the type of case it is.
The more information you give your lawyer, and the faster you respond to their requests, the earlier your case will be resolved.
How much will it cost?
Your solicitor must talk with you about costs and payment arrangements that suit you.
Legal aid is not usually available for legal advice about personal injury. But ask your solicitor whether you should apply for legal aid. After asking you about your legal problem and your personal finances, your solicitor should be able to tell you whether you can get legal aid (at no cost to you). Remember that, even if you do get legal aid, it may not cover all your costs.
If you can’t get legal aid, your solicitor should explain other options. For example, perhaps you have household or holiday insurance which covers legal costs. Or a “no win, no fee” agreement might be right for you.
There are two types of “no win, no fee” cases: conditional fee agreements (CFAs) and damages-based agreements (DBAs), sometimes called contingency fees. In CFA and DBA cases, your solicitor only gets paid if they win your case.
What happens if I lose my claim?
Depending on the fee arrangements you have signed up to, you might need to pay both your own legal costs and those of the other side if you lose the case.
You might be able to get insurance to protect yourself from having to pay some legal costs. This is called “after the event” (ATE) insurance because you can buy a policy after the event that triggers the legal case. Your ATE insurer pays the other side’s costs if you lose the case. An ATE policy may also cover other expenses. Your solicitor will talk to you about the benefits of ATE insurance and what it includes.
Keep in mind that some lawyers get a commission for arranging insurance. Your lawyer must tell you if they will get a commission for arranging ATE insurance for you.
What costs do I have to pay if the claim doesn’t go ahead?
The costs you pay if your claim doesn’t go ahead depend on what you have agreed with your lawyer.
If you withdraw your claim, you may still need to pay your legal services professional for their work on the case and other costs. If the firm says they no longer want you as a client – for example, because the medical evidence doesn’t support your claim – you may still need to pay the firm. At your first meeting with the lawyer, they will explain what you will need to pay if this happens.
If you lie about events, your lawyer has the right to refuse to act for you. You will still need to pay them for work they have dones on your case.
How might the other side respond to my claim? Will they challenge my evidence?
In 2013, the rules about claims were changed to encourage early settlement – when the two sides come to an agreement without going to court.
If the other side has evidence that contradicts your evidence, or if they believe your evidence is lacking in some other way, they are less likely to settle your claim. And they may well launch a series of long and complex challenges to your claim. Your solicitor will tell you what to expect and how to respond.
Remember that if you tell the court something that is proved to be untrue, you may well be prosecuted. You could even go to prison.
What are my chances of success?
Your lawyer should explain how likely it is your claim will succeed. They will use the information you have given them to assess your chance of success.
Remember that you and your lawyer can be prosecuted if you make a fraudulent claim.
Will a solicitor or a paralegal handle my case?
In many firms, lawyers and paralegals work closely together on cases. A solicitor is someone who is qualified to give legal advice and handle your case by taking it to court and speaking in court on your behalf. In some cases, they may ask barristers to speak in court on your behalf.
A paralegal might be involved in your case to help the solicitor prepare and gather information about your claim.
Find out more about what barristers, paralegals and other types of lawyers do.
July 27th, 2015
There are over 15,000 barristers practising law in England and Wales.
Barristers provide specialist advice and representation in legal disputes, including representing their clients in court cases.
Often, if you have instructed a solicitor or another type of lawyer, they will find and appoint a suitable barrister for you.
However, nowadays you can also approach many barristers directly to get help without needing to go through another lawyer first. This is known a ‘Public Access’, or ‘Direct Access’.
As well as advising and representing you in court cases, Public Access barristers can help you with things like drafting legal documents, or giving specialist advice on a particular area of law.
But where can you find a suitable barrister? And how do you know if the barrister you are thinking of instructing, is an expert in the area of law that you need help with?
Well, the Bar Council – the professional body which represents barristers – has recently launched a new online Direct Access portal. It is an easy way to find and contact specialist Direct Access Barristers, Mediators and Arbitrators.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) regulates all barristers. It sets the rules for what a barrister learns and how they must do things. All barristers must be registered in order to give legal advice. You can check whether a barrister is registered using the BSB’s online Barristers’ Register. It can display details of all barristers who are authorised to practise in England and Wales.
Finally, if you are not sure if the person who you are dealing with is really a barrister, please check out this Legal Choices article for advice.
June 8th, 2015
How many carers do you know?
There are 6.5 million carers in the UK, so chances are you know someone who is one, or you may be one yourself.
8 – 14 June is National Carer’s Week, and an opportunity to highlight the daily challenges carers can face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities.
Day in, day out carers help people who need support the most to live their lives. Depending on the situation this can be helping people for a short period of time, if for example a friend is ill, right through to supporting a family member who needs 24 hour care.
As well as providing physical support some carers also become someone that speaks out on behalf of the person they are caring for, to make sure their rights are upheld.
This can include legal problems, and times when a legal solution is needed to help protect someone that is being cared for. Examples include powers of attorney, wills, family trusts, protection orders, discrimination issues, and benefit challenges.
Like any legal situation though, it can be hard to know who to talk to, and where to start.
To mark National Carer’s Week, Legal Choices has updated our help page for carers, which has ideas and facts about some of the ways to help carers get advice and support with legal problems.
For information about National Carer’s Week you can visit the website – www.carersweek.org.
March 3rd, 2015
What to do if you’re not sure if the person you’re dealing with is a barrister
As the regulator of barristers in England and Wales, it is our job to handle complaints against members of the Bar and take disciplinary action if appropriate. However, sometimes we learn of people who are deliberately pretending to be barristers when they are not – an act which is a serious criminal offence.
In March last year Amir Saleem was sentenced to four years and four months for a string of deception-related offences, including pretending to be a barrister. Among the seven criminal charges to which Mr Saleem pleaded guilty was carrying out a “reserved legal activity” at an earlier hearing. A reserved legal activity is something that only a lawyer, who is authorised to do so, can do on behalf of clients.
During his trial it was revealed that Mr Saleem had met a lady online via a dating website, and told her that he was a barrister who could help with a legal issue she had and represent her in court. It was only after he was talking to another barrister at court – claiming he was also a brain surgeon – when concerns about his behaviour were raised and he was investigated.
It is against the law for someone to (deliberately or wilfully) pretend to be a barrister or to use any name, title, or description that makes it seem as though they are a barrister when they are not.
If you are not sure if the person you are dealing with is actually a practising barrister, you can find out by searching The Barristers’ Register, which is available on the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) website. This provides a list of barristers who are permitted to carry out legal services when referring to themselves as barristers. If your search does not produce any matching results, you should contact the Bar Council (via firstname.lastname@example.org), and they will conduct further checks for you.
If you learn that the person you are dealing with is pretending to be a barrister, you should contact the police and let us know. In some cases the BSB will refer matters to the police about people pretending to be a barrister.
We want to ensure people make the right decisions and do not fall victim to scams. Frequently, these come in the form of fraudulent emails – sometimes dishonestly using the names of real barristers or barristers’ chambers and citing phoney qualifications. They are designed to trick people into giving money to criminals, posing as barristers.
Such emails often ask the recipient for personal details like:
• your bank account details;
• your date of birth; and
• log-in details to bank accounts or other online accounts
Or they might ask you to send money in advance. Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you have been targeted by a scam email, do not give out any money or personal details up front. You should contact the police if you believe you have fallen victim to a scam. If you would like further advice or information, please visit Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre. If you are based outside of the UK, please contact your local law enforcement agency.