"A colleague recommended Dean after our wedding venue changed ownership and refused to honour our booking or provide a refund. Upon Dean's advice we managed to not only obtain a full refund but compensation also". Miss S.S. (Tuffley, Gloucestershire)
Legal Templates - more harm than help?
Legal Templates - are they a false economy?
Many people who begin legal action do so by starting with the purchase of a template of a Letter Before Action. Templates can be purchased and completed cheaply and quickly online. Whilst they are a useful tool for those with legal training, a professionally drafted letter of claim tailored to your individual circumstances is always a better starting point than a generic template for several reasons.
Templates have less impact.
Generic templates are necessarily general, and therefore with the loss of detail, lose some of their impact. It often takes the issue of Court proceedings to concentrate a debtor's mind, but I have had a significant number of clients whose cases have been fully resolved with one letter. This can only be achieved if the initial letter of claim is drafted specifically to "hook" the defendant, and this is difficult to do without a bespoke document.
Mistakes are easy to make and can be costly.
Templates are supplied as a "DIY" legal tool, and thereby exclude legal advice tailored to your situation. The law is complex and it is very easy to cite the wrong law, or fail to cite the right law in your letter of claim, or in your legal proceedings, which could mean the difference between success or failure at trial. Even the Master of the Rolls believes this to be true. A quick look at my Testimonials page will reveal several clients who freely admit that they wish they'd had legal advice from the start.
I see examples every week of small businesses and people who have begun legal action and have got into difficulty because their Claim Form was inaccurate, not sufficiently specific, or too brief. Legal templates are a useful tool but without legal advice, particularly when you may well be acting against lawyers, they will not prevent you being at a disadvantage.
Debt Pre-Action Protocol Compliance
Finally, the specific type of Letter Before Action which can be purchased for £2-3 online (typically 3 line letters which give almost no information at all), will, with the introduction of the Debt Pre-Action Protocol on 1st October 2017, become non-compliant. Sending only such letters, and nothing more, may mean that you will have failed to comply with the Pre-Action Protocol, and could lead to legal costs sanctions against you, even if you win your case.
From 1st October 2017, it will become mandatory for businesses suing sole traders or consumers to provide comprehensive Letters Before Action, with a detailed and prescribed list of information and documentation, in default of which you fail to comply with the Protocol.
For these reasons starting your case with a template, and forsaking legal advice, can be a false economy. When expert legal advice and assistance can be tailored to your specific legal needs for a low fixed fee, is it worth taking such a risk?
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