Sorry for bombarding this site with so many questions!
My solicitor does not get in touch with me with updates for months on end. Requests go ignored, letter copies rarely sent etc.
If I was not so close to the final hearing I would change solicitors I swear.
Yesterday I requested an update call from my solicitor and he called me back.
During the conversation (which he told me the new court date) he managed to slip my husbands name into the conversation about 6 times! I asked if he was giving advice to my husband, he said no (my husband is self repping, not because of financial problems but because his solicitors wont go along with his silly requests and dance to his tune and he can do better!! ).
At the end of the conversation I said to my solicitor "are you giving XXX advice?" solicitor said he had to about certain matters. I asked if I was paying for him giving my husband advice and he said no.
Somethings making me very uneasy about this and I cannot put my finger on it.
Has anybody else experienced this?
As I said above there is a fine line to tread. Under the Solicitors Regulation Authority''s code of course a solicitor''s duty is to act in the best interests of their clients but there is also a duty to the court and assisting with the administration of justice. A solicitor cannot take unfair advantage of a Litigant in Person''s lack of legal knowledge and they are expected to assist in giving constructive guidance such as explaining proceedings. It may also help for the solicitor to provide a LIP with certain information. That can lead to misunderstandings with the client. See the Law Society''s practice notes about LIPs here;
The problem with RoW and other similar organisations is there isn''t a great deal of time in this case and people have difficulty getting through on the phone, particularly at weekends, and when they do the phone is answered by an unqualified volunteer. Wikivorce has lots of unqualified volunteers who are able and willing to assist almost 24/7. If someone gets it wrong in a post, as we all do from time to time, there are plenty of others coming along including professionals visiting the site to correct us
Fiona is correct. There is a very fine line that solicitors have to tread but they do sometimes have to explain the law to people representing themselves. Sometimes the judge will even ask them to do so, or will explain things to the self-repper themselves. There is a lot written about this in recent reports about ligigants in person, and it causes some dilemmas for judges, for the reasons Fiona gives.
Your solicitor will act in your best interests. Your solicitor will help the other side but only if this is in your best interests and does not cause a conflict of interests.
form Example, if there is a hearing coming up and your ex telephones your solicitor to clarify some documentation which is to go into a bundle, does your solicitor refuse or assist? If your solicitor refuses, this might lead to delays or even an adjournment at court which will cost you more money. If your solicitor assists, this will save money and ensure that your ex fully understands the proceedings.
It is common for a litigant in person to contact their ex''s solicitor to discuss matters and it is common for the solicitor to wrongly state that they cannot speak – this is a common issue raised on this site. Solicitors speak to each other and they also agree Directions to put before the court where this is appropriate – the position should be similar where a party represents themselves. The only difference is that a litigant in person will need more input in order to reach the same point that a solicitor will.
As another example here are two accounts of a telephone call relating to the Consent Order procedure:
(1) Solicitor + Solicitor
"My client accepts your proposal – can we tie up loose ends?"
"Okay, I''ll get a draft order and supporting docs over to you and you can send the signed copies and half the court fee back. I''ll submit the application to the court"
(2) Solicitor + litigant in person
"My client accepts your proposal"
"Okay, what happens next?"
"I can prepare a draft Consent Order and a statement of information. The statement is required from both parties when a consent application is filed and it is a ''snapshot'' of your finances at the date of completion. Once you have completed this form and you are happy with the order, you need to return the signed documents to be with a cheque for half of the court fee, £22.50, and I will then submit the consent application to the court. A District Judge will then consider the application and will either agree to make the order or will raise questions which we must answer. As you are a litigant in person, the judge may decide to list the matter for a hearing to ensure that you fully understand the ramifications of the application. I would advise you to seek independent legal advice upon the order and the current settlement proposals if you have not done so already…"
In the example (2), the Solicitor *does* give advice but only on court procedure and ironically, to seek legal advice. At no point does the solicitor say "you could get a better deal" or "you''re a mug for making such a generous offer". That would be a conflict of interests.