Lawyers often come across matters which have turned into horror stories because the client did not seek timely legal advice.
To give a better understanding of the importance of taking timely legal advice, below are a few first hand accounts of lawyers in Kerseys who have had to deal with situations where the client neglected to take legal advice at the earliest opportunity;
“ I was asked to advise on a property dispute between cohabitees. My client had jointly owned a property with his ex-partner. Their separation was amicable and they agreed that the property would be transferred into the partner’s name, who would buy my client out. The agreement was contained in a contract which they drafted without legal advice. The property was transferred but no money was paid to my client. The contract, incorrectly drafted, did not contain important clauses and was of little help. It will take court proceedings to resolve matters successfully for my client. Obtaining legal advice before the transfer would have avoided the stress and expense of court proceedings.” [ Matrimonial Lawyer]
“I have a client who is a professional with his own business. He gave some informal “advice” over a glass of wine, and was then held to it and sued when apparently all went wrong. He did not take it seriously at first, but when it persisted, and he referred the matter to lawyers and his insurers, his insurers declined the claim because it was out of time from the date when he initially became aware of it. He ended up having to deal with litigation that took ten years to resolve, at a week long trial in London, and having to fund the defence and trial himself. Costs exceeded six figures and had he lost, he would have lost his home. He was completely vindicated at trial, but was still out of pocket for some time as the Claimant who had a cost order made against him had to sell property before being able to pay. A sobering story that if you do not take advice as soon as there is a hint of a problem, you may be deprived of the best chance you have of dealing with it.” [Commercial Lawyer]
“The landlord wanted to remove a tenant as quickly as possible from a property let on an assured shorthold tenancy. He had prepared and served on the tenant a two-month section 21 notice and the date given in the notice had expired but the tenant hadn’t vacated. The landlord wanted to issue possession proceedings under the accelerated procedure. Unfortunately his section 21 notice was invalid, because although he’d taken a deposit from the tenant at the outset of the tenancy he had not protected the deposit by registering it with a deposit scheme. So he had to register the deposit late, give the tenant prescribed information about the scheme, then serve a fresh section 21 notice giving the tenant a further two months within which to vacate. He also faced a potential fine for not having registered the deposit sooner. “ [Property Litigation Lawyer]
“I recently came across a matter regarding the estate of a gentleman, where in his Will his girlfriend had the right to live in his property for the rest of her lifetime and then on her death the property was to be divided between his children.
When making his Will, his finances were stable. After making his Will, his finances changed, resulting in him remortgaging his property. On his death the property was still mortgaged. As a deceased’s debts are the first to be paid, the house was sold to pay the mortgage and the remaining proceeds passed to the gentleman’s children. The mortgage therefore overrode his girlfriend’s right to live in the property. The moral of the story is, if your financial circumstances change, it is important that you review and, if necessary, change your Will to fit your circumstances. “ [Private Client Lawyer]
Time and time again clients come to us to unravel problems which could have been avoided had they taken legal advice from the outset. Our advice is to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity so you can avert a horror story from unfolding!!
Kimat Singh | Partner
Commercial Property Department, Kerseys