Advice for Solicitor accepting Timeshare engagements form cold calling paralegal firms
Cold calling is a technique that has been an irritant and pest for some years now – even the majority of laid back people do not wish their family dinner time to be interrupted by stranger who never seems to take ‘no’ for an answer.
It is widely used by businesses, WHY because it works!
The Solicitors on the other hand are regulated and banned from cold calling or from a client who might have been cold called. This advice is on the basis that it is judged to be unethical, potentially harmful to the public and promotes possible contentious cases which ought not to be fought.
There is a verity of basic principles in the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct 2011 that solicitors must abide by. These include performing with integrity and behaving in a manner which maintains public trust in them, therefore it is made abundantly clear to all solicitors (by their regulator), The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) that to engage in cold calling on the public would breach those doctrines and be a disciplinary matter.
However, these days there are heaps of enterprises operating in and around the field of legal services (i.e. paralegal services) that are not regulated, nor are they prohibited from cold calling to peddle for business.
Consequently, calls from unregulated companies and individuals offering to exits from timeshare contracts, assistance in section 75 claims and compensation claims are becoming increasingly common.
Because the general public is still largely unaware of the differences between paralegal service providers and qualified, regulated solicitors they often assume that the calls must originate from firms of solicitors. In truth they don’t
Lawyer is a term for someone who works in the legal profession it is not a solicitor. They will not be qualified and they are probably not registered. That being the case they will not:-
– be entitled to represent you in confrontational situations.
– have the right of audience in a court.
– and may not give balanced advice with regards to risk.
Some non-solicitor/ unregulated organisations are keen to make contact with their target audience and focus on cold-calling elderly people or those who live alone – i.e. people who are largely unfamiliar with changes that have happened in the legal services profession.
Cold calling presumably has its place as a marketing tool and there are probably many businesses that use it in a responsible manner, but if it raises anxiety and confusion it can be harmful and have devastating consequences.
Taking on a timeshare seller and resort of company requires a good knowledge of the law, the civil procedure rules and present authorities which have been adjudicated on in the past. Not being wise to that knowledge will lead to a mis-adventure and a costly outcome.
Solicitors have an important role to play as trusted advisers for the public; being able to maintain integrity is therefore vital for solicitors in building trust and confidence.
The general public is entitled to expect high standards from solicitors and if barring them from using certain sales ploys helps to keep standards high then it’s to be welcomed – and everyone should know about it.
So the next time the phone rings just when you’re sitting down to your dinner remember – it will not be a solicitor cold calling you. Moreover, the caller cannot pass the work to a regulated solicitor in the event that they are engaged and the case need expert assistance.
In saying that a growing number of un-regulated claims management enterprises are putting solicitors at risk of breaching conduct rules by hiring call centres to cold call potential claimants on their behalf.
The Ministry of Justice has identified a ‘shift’ towards the use of call centres in India and the UK by claims farmers.
Solicitors who accept claims obtained by cold calling break Solicitors Regulation Authority publicity rules.
Claims management companies’ increasing use of external call centres to farm claims will make it harder for solicitors to check the origin of a claim when undertaking due diligence.
Kevin Rousell, head of claims management regulation at the MoJ, urged solicitors to take care and undertake proper due diligence “so that they are sure where their claims are coming from”.
An SRA spokeswoman said a solicitor is responsible for ensuring that they do not become involved in ‘dubious financial arrangements’ that might breach conduct rules. ‘We (she stated) would expect the solicitor to show evidence of having made suitable enquiries about an introducer’s marketing methods.
Failure to do so will render the solicitor potentially liable to disciplinary procedure from the SRA including being struck off.
Last modified: August 28, 2015