Choosing Legal Help

If you have come to find yourself in a sticky situation or you require legal assistance for the first time, you may be stuck on where to go, who to see or what to do. In this article we look at the options available to those in England who are seeking to instruct a law professional or obtain some legal advice.

Legal assistance can often be pricey; it is vital that you research the level of legal help you need. In some instances a legal executive may be able to handle your case and produce outstanding results, in more complex cases it often proves more effective to use a solicitor, barrister or even a whole legal team.

Legal executives often specialise in one small area of the law; they do much of the same work as solicitors such as conveyancing, criminal law, probate, civil litigation and more. Legal executives are governed by CILEx, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives; they have around 20,000 members, each of which are independently regulated by ILEX Professional Standards.

In order to qualify as a legal executive, aspiring candidates must undertake a series of training courses and pass qualifications relevant to the area of practice in which they want to specialize. Despite often having similar knowledge to solicitors around their field, legal executives often tend to be cheaper and are being used more frequently now than ever.

If you were to look for a slightly more advanced legal practitioner, a solicitor could be the appropriate option. All qualified and practicing solicitors are regulated by a governing body, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Solicitor’s main duties include general aspects of giving legal advice and conducting legal proceedings.

Prospective solicitors must complete a law degree and a Legal Practice Course (LPC) in order to complete “phase 1” of their training; Once the LPC has been passed the would-be solicitor must undertake 2 years apprenticeship, commonly referred to as a training contract, with a firm who are entitled to train solicitors.

Solicitor’s fees can often be quite high, if you are to get true value for money you must make it worthwhile and hire a specialist in your required field. It is often the case that in civil matters, a good solicitor can negotiate a deal with a desired outcome, without going near a courtroom.

If you are looking for a specialist advocate to represent you in the courts, you may be better off with a barrister. Barristers tend to specialise in one area of law, they often hold a fantastic knowledge of their field and can often be called in to advise solicitors on their cases too.

A barrister must go through a law degree, much like a solicitor before they can qualify. Once the perspective barrister has completed a law degree they can choose to study a Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) instead of an LPC, once this is passed they are eligible to be called to the bar. Training however isn’t finished there, before gaining qualified status, trainees must complete a pupillage – 12 months practical training with an experienced barrister.

All barristers, regardless of their specialism are regulated by the Bar Standards Board, a division of the General Bar Council. The actual work carried out by a barrister is heavily dependant on the field in which they work. For example, criminal law specialists would spend most time prepping cases and presenting in court whereas those working in other fields may have to do more office based advisory work.

Although barrister’s fees are often amongst the highest charged by legal professionals, if you have been subject to serious criminal allegations or involved in a high profile financial dispute, it could be worth paying a little extra for a professional’s expertise… Selecting the correct assistance could be the difference on weather or not you get the outcome from your case that you desire.

If you are seeking guidance from a legal professional, why not email on of our team on info@cpcworldwide,co.uk? We could help you find out what level of assistance you require and introduce you to the right person for the job.

Advertisements

Next On The Sucker List…

Over the last 20 years the options for ways in which we can purchase products and services has expanded greatly; if you choose to buy online or over the phone there is every chance you will be asked to sign up and join some sort of mailing list. If you have been a victim of a scam in the past its likely fraudsters will target you more than others, your name and contact details could appear on a “sucker list.”

images-1

Sucker lists took to the headlines in March last year when the Financial Services Authority revealed it had found the biggest ever, displaying names, addresses and telephone numbers of more than 38,000 people.

Its highly likely that a number of sucker lists still exist; well organised groups of criminal masterminds are continuing to collect data, focusing on certain individuals or types. Bill Hughes, director general of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, says the slightest response, even to say “no thanks” could lead to up to 100 scam letters a day.

According to research carried out by the Office of Fair Trading, 3.2 million adults in the UK collectively loose £3.5 billion to mass-marketed scams every single year.

cds-suck

According to research by psychologists, victims are not usually poor decision makers; evidence would suggest that more often than not, they have successful business or professional careers. Unfortunately the individuals associated with sucker lists tend to be very open to persuasion by others and seemingly less able to control their emotions.

Victims can often be stung more than once, this is because fraudsters use techniques that exploit the traits they have been widely associated with such as lack of emotional control, a degree of isolation and a tendency to be impulsive.

images-2

You can protect yourself very easily by:

  • Protecting your personal information and only giving contact details to people who will not misuse or forward them for a fee
  • Not giving out your credit card or bank details for identification purposes
  • Keeping your personal information private on social networking sites
  • Refusing to respond to junk and spam emails
  • Checking the identity and credentials of any companies you are dealing with.

Always remain sceptical when making investments online or over the phone, try and deal with an agent in person and seek investment advice from a professional such as Check-Protect-Invest; they do all of the research and background work to make sure you know exactly who you are investing your money with and why.

viewlogo.aspx

 

If you fear it may be too late and you have been hoaxed into investing with a no-good, rogue agent, one of the team at CPC Worldwide could assist you with a case for financial recovery. All cases are initially analysed free of charge and our friendly team are just a phone call away on 0191 386 2487.

cpc-target1.png

Escrow Accounts – The Simple Truth

Many investors are attracted to a deal and trust the investment upon seeing the magical words ‘escrow account’. But what does that mean and just because there is an ‘escrow’ is your money protected? Will this make the investment genuine and ethical?

Escrow originates from the old French term escroe which means to hold. An escrow account will hold money in custody or trust until a specified condition has been met. So the escrow account will have an agent which is typically a bank, the solicitor for one of the parties or sometimes, jointly, both parties’ solicitors. The escrow agent will be responsible for making sure that the relevant conditions for releasing the money is met as well stopping the money from being released in accordance to the terms of the escrow agreement. The escrow agreement must set out the conditions which trigger the release of the money and the amount that must be released. To put the use of escrow accounts in context, imagine a clothing company where the designers want money for making a new range of skirts and tops but the employer does not want to just give all the money directly to them. Instead the money is placed in an escrow account where a certain sum would be released by the agent on the following conditions:

  • A certain sum to be given after receiving from the designers the designs of the skirts and tops, the estimated costs, relevant materials etc;
  • A second release after half of the skirts and tops are made; and
  • Another release for marketing costs once all the skirts and tops have been made.

This way the money is being spent on the clothes and the work progresses smoothly. If the conditions are not satisfied then there will be no money leaving the escrow account. The escrow account will have also provided financial security to the designers who do not have to be concerned with getting paid and solvency of the clothing company.

A correctly applied escrow account will also give the parties peace of mind as a Solicitor will be accountable to the relevant authorities, namely the SRA, and will also hold professional liability insurance.

However, this is not what happens in scam investment cases. The escrow account can be nothing more than a normal account where the money will be held for a short while before it being fully transferred to a third party.

In instances of an actual escrow account, used by scammers, the agent will be an independent party, usually a Solicitor, which is not related to any of the parties. The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and The Courts have sanctioned solicitors for many years for processing funds through client accounts for purposes unconnected with legal advice.

In order for an escrow account to be covered by the regulations of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, one of the parties must actually be a client of the firm and an escrow account can be set up to deal with the finances of an underlying legal transaction.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority Rules 14.5 of the Accounts Rules provides as follows

“A solicitor must not provide banking facilities through a client account. Payments into, and transfers or withdrawals from, a client account must be in respect of instructions relating to an underlying transaction (and the funds arising therefrom) or to a service forming part of normal regulated activities.”

Guidance note (v) to Rule 14.5 states that

Rule 14.5 reflects decisions of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal that it is not a proper part of a solicitor’s everyday business or practice to operate a banking facility for third parties, whether they are clients of the firm or not. It should also be borne in mind that there are criminal sanctions against assisting money launderers.

Therefore under this clear guidance a solicitor who acts as an escrow agent between you and a third party, in a matter that has no underlying legal transaction in which they are acting, is acting beyond their role as a solicitor. As such any dealings and transactions will not be covered by SRA regulations or the compensation scheme and potentially any professional liability insurance will also be void. This means that the solicitor’s regulators will not compensate for money released from the escrow account nor will you be able to recover your money from the insurers.

If you are planning on making any investments or concerned about any current investments you have made, please get in touch with CPC Worldwide.

By Faegheh Jenabi MLAW (BPTC) & Kate Cunniff Legal Assistant