Do I need to go on the court record if I provide unbundled advocacy services?
My high-street practice has started to offer unbundled services in relation to family work. A prospective client wants to instruct us to deal specifically with a financial dispute hearing in ancillary relief proceedings. Would we be required to go on the court record?
Rule 42.2(1)(b) of the Civil Procedure Rules states it is not necessary to serve notice to the court where the solicitor is “appointed only to act as an advocate for a hearing”.
Similarly, Practice Direction 42.1(1.3) states that a solicitor appointed in these circumstances “will not be considered to be acting for that party within the meaning of Part 42”.
Accordingly, discrete acts of advocacy may be undertaken without going on the record, provided they are not combined with litigation conducted on your client’s behalf.
You must take extreme care to delineate your unbundled advocacy service from a full retainer by clearly setting out the limits of the service you will provide and what your client must do themselves.
Failure to do so may result in you running the risks and liabilities associated with a full retainer.
You should also hand a letter to the judge stating that you:
- have been instructed specifically as an advocate for that particular hearing, and
- are not on the record as acting and do not intend to go on the record
You can find a specimen letter to the judge, client care templates and further guidance in our practice note on unbundling civil legal services.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.
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