How fair dink are solicitors?
They’d have a duty of care wouldn’t they? Of course. It is a legal requirement.
They’d know that. They are solicitors. Yet they don’t seem to give a damn.
How about charging $700 for a job you can do yourself for $50?
And a job that in the end the person did do themselves?
It’s a divorce application. The person is very distraught. As some tend to be when in such a scene. Divorces are very stressful aren’t they?
So because of the stresses and strains they give up trying to talk to their partner where they’re ostensibly going to file a joint application and have a peaceful, amicable arrangement, and in distress and turmoil go to a solicitor for help with filing this divorce application.
Now we are not talking the government fee here in this ‘$50’ cost estimate. No. That’s $900 and has to be paid whichever way you go. Tax. You know how it is.
No. But electronic filing of an application, via their website (the govt), from your desktop, at home, costs you maybe $50 all up. For printing out things, for going to get signatures witnessed and whatever.. coffee, croissants…
So this solicitor quotes this lady $800 (plus the govt $900) and she accepts.
And then she gives the solicitor two affidavits. Completed. Signed. Witnessed.
Being virtually all that is needed for the application actually. The total thing requires an affidavit each from the joint applicants and then signed, witnessed actual application.
Three pieces of paper.
Two of them – the most labour intensive, the most difficult to obtain, this lady gives to the solicitor as a done thing.
Accepts to use the solicitor’s services, gives the documents, forks out money as a retainer and leaves.
And then at home a couple of days later has a reconciliation to some extent with the partner and they decide to continue doing the thing themselves at home.
In the interim the solicitor has rung the partner and asked them to come into the office to sign something. And he declines. So that stops everything there as far as the solicitor is concerned.
So after the ‘reconciliation’ the lady goes back to the solicitor and says she’ll no longer need their services how about returning the documents and most of the money.
Okay says the solicitor. That’ll be $700.
Quoted $800 for the whole job. Did none of it. Demanded $700.
Which shocked and distressed this lady a great deal.
The parties concerned did the job at home in a few minutes at a cost of less than $50.
The demand – in fact it was more than a demand as the solicitor already had the money and wouldn’t return it so it was an appropriation. I’d call it a theft.
Now where is the ‘duty of care’ ? Where has the care gone? There’s evident distress in the first place. There’s the evident exorbitant cost of solicitors. There’s the obvious availability of the govt. DIY online app. There’s the obvious minor drama just blown up that can be reasonably expected to die down and allow further joint work towards the end as in fact happened.
Due care would call for the solicitor to consider all of this and carefully inform the lady. In effect to warn the lady she was walking unnecessarily into a place of potential harm – as it turned out real harm.
Was the lady, for instance, aware that her initial ‘consultation’ with the solicitor had cost her in the solicitor’s estimate nearly $300 ? Just to talk and explain.
I will wager the lady would expect this initial visit to be virtually non-accountable, but just the very beginning of everything.. ‘start now’ when she left the place so to speak.
What can we add to this? How about t his: the lady was Asian with a poor command of technical, legal, bureaucratic English.
Distressed with her home life, distressed to be alone in a foreign country, distressed to be swimming in a technical sea she couldn’t understand.
It is very true that the lady could have proceeded with an application online by herself easily enough. But such was her naivety in such matters, her phobia of them, that she turned away from that and sought help from a solicitor.
A professional person with a duty of care.
Whose obvious first course should have been to direct to counselling we’d think, obviously. A ‘cooling off’ period at the very least. A handing over of a piece of paper spelling it all out at the very, very least.
But no. She was immediately, there and then, fleeced of $300.
And a job quoted at $800 that comprised mainly of three pieces of paper had none of those pieces of paper processed by the solicitor yet she charged $700 !
How proud is the Legal Profession of this?
The Legal Profession often gets away with no mention of it; to such an extent that it probably even slips the public mind, they give it no thought, they actually forget it, but the fact is the Legal Profession is there to help people.
It has supposedly got the interests of the public, the nation, the individuals with which it deals at heart.
There’s a convenient canard emanating from the USA recent decades where they love to denigrate all law breakers as ‘scum’ and ‘lowlifes’ etc. that the Legal Profession is there merely to ‘uphold the law’.
No. It is there to help people. If it doesn’t help people we don’t need it or want it.
In fact there is no contradiction. There should be no contradictions. All our Laws are meant to Help People.
And there’s a Law that applies in this case and it is the Law of Duty of Care.
Where was their Care?
And where was their avarice and lack of care?