Steer clear of cowboy Will writers

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Professional negligence solicitor, Lee Dawkins echoes the ombudsman’s warnings about unregulated and uninsured will writers.

The BBC is reporting that thousands of people in the UK are being ‘ripped off’ by ‘cowboy’ companies providing unregulated legal services such as will writing.

Quoting the Chief Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales the report says:
“One service which crops up a lot is will writing. It’s a service carried out often by will-writing firms who aren’t regulated.”

“Because of this, customers are left with little means of redress when things go wrong.

“We’ve seen similar confusion about claims management companies, with lots of consumers believing they’re getting a legal service even though most of the work is carried out by a non-authorised person. Again, we can’t help.”

‘Unregulated cowboys’

Many consumers are unaware that the legal ombudsman can only act on complaints from those using the services of qualified lawyers.

Legal services offered via the internet by unregulated companies came in for particular criticism. The ombudsman and the Law Society were agreed that this poses serious dangers for consumer protection.

The chief executive of the Law Society commented: “The gap in regulation which allows unregulated cowboys to operate in areas like will writing does not just cause unfair competition to solicitors, who provide a regulated, professional service. It is also damaging to consumers because the unregulated providers are not insured, do not provide a compensation fund and are not covered by the Legal Ombudsman’s scheme for consumer redress.”

Lee Dawkins, head of professional negligence at Slee Blackwell Solicitors, confirmed that claims against will writers are on the increase, but the fact that insurance is not compulsory for these companies often leaves victims out of pocket. ‘The irony,’ he said, ‘is that a properly prepared will from a good local solicitor is rarely any more expensive than a will from one of these cowboy operators, who like to charge for ‘extras’ such as storage, which Slee Blackwell do for free. It’s a false economy, and a risky one at that.’

The full report can be found at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14180643