DEFINITION OF A ‘Litigant in Person Assistant'
In family and civil life, there are more litigants in person (LIPs), i.e. those who cannot afford a Solicitor or Barrister, and who need advice, and who need help in court and during proceedings.
Due to consumer demand and need, and the emergence of more fee-charging non-Solicitor/non-Barrister legal service providers who have a broad range of knowledge and expertise, the definition of ‘McKenzie Friend’, referred to in the 2010 Guidance on McKenzie Friends, is no longer fit for purpose, as it does not accurately reflect consumer demand and needs, nor describe the diverse legal service providers in the market place.
Helpers who provide LIPs with a very wide range of advice and assistance in and out of court, can now more accurately be described as a ‘Litigant in Person Assistant’. This modern ‘Assistant’ may or may not charge for their services. They may or may not have qualifications in law. They may or may not have under graduate or post graduate degrees. They may or may not belong to a regulatory body. They may or may not work for a company, charity, society or community organisation. They may or may not be insured. They may or may not be experienced in helping LIPs.
To protect yourself, you should go online and research the Assistant by reviewing their business website to see if it has a complaints policy, client feedback, and if they are insured. See if they are well known by reviewing their LinkedIn site and other sites they appear on. See if they are well known by reviewing Google, Yahoo and other leading search engines.
Nevertheless, the modern LIP Assistant may provide information, guidance, support and legal advice, and assist and organize the LIP, whether the LIP is involved in court proceedings or not, unless the work they are asked to do is a ‘reserved activity’ under the Legal Services Act.
Judges can be asked to give the LIP permission for their Assistant to speak for the LIP in court or do a broader range of tasks for them out of court.
The Legal Services Act will need to be reformed in due course to reflect the diverse market place and the demands and needs of LIPs.
CHARGING & INVOICING
Family Law Clinic Invoices: Our invoices are clear. However, clients must always check their invoices as soon as they are received. Overlooking or ignoring any of our terms and conditions is at a clients own risk.
Because of the nature of our business, in so far as each appointment or service is treated as a 'one-off' 'pay-and-go' contract, the contents of individual Invoices will inevitably change during the course of a case, depending on various factors, such as type of service, cost or duration of service, fee and type of fee applicable, method of payment, monthly offers, and discounted all-inclusive deals etc. Invoices may show special 'Terms & Conditions'. Please read these carefully as some of these may contain a 'No Refund' or a 'Completion Fee' statement.
If a client asks us to assist during court proceedings, whether or not we actually attend Court, or, a client pays in advance for a discounted all-inclusive package, we do not provide refunds if there is an early settlement or the client is unsuccessful and disappointed with the outcome.
We are very happy to clarify anything for clients. We expect our clients to query or discuss any item on our invoices if they are not sure of its meaning. We require payment immediately. Our justification for not extending credit is that our fees are considerably lower than those charged by high street Solicitors or Barristers, so it is only fair and reasonable that we are paid without delay.
Standard T&Cs for discounted all-inclusive packages-
This document is a clear statement of the terms and conditions that apply when purchasing any discounted package from us. To read online please click for a copy in a new window.