We’re all familiar with the age old saying about you get what you pay for and never is that more true than in the legal world.

For example, the conveyancing market is full of legal firms who will offer you property transaction services for less than we do, and if you are price sensitive then we are definitely not the right company for you.

On the other hand, what are you actually getting for your money.   Are you getting a company that will work round the clock to meet urgent deadlines (my team once beat a land registry deadline by minutes to save our client thousands).  Are you getting a firm who will be available to you 24/7 (a few weeks ago I did an evening meeting with a group of residents about a right to manage project, because they all work during the day).  Are you getting a company where you will have the MD’s mobile number and can call her at any time for her support and advice (that would be me unless you hadn’t realised).  If not, then only you can decide if the savings are worse the reduction in service.

However, the fact that we are good value for money wasn’t what I meant.

Actually it was a reference to the cost of litigants in person.

As the cost of living rises and people’s disposable incomes drop, it is more tempting to run cases yourself to help keep the costs down, and I fully understand why that might be the case.  However, in some situations, that can often end up costing more in the long run.  In a recent probate dispute case between siblings, one side was not legally represented.  The Judge, in an overzealous attempt to help the litigant in person, undertook some cross examination of that party, and then found against them, no doubt assuming that his questioning had helped get to the bottom of the matter much more expeditiously.

Unfortunately, the Court of Appeal disagreed, and the decision was overturned, which would have resulted in more costs for all parties.

So not only did the litigant in person suffer (more time and expense) but the party who were legally represented will also have had additional costs, which is yet another reminder of how the costs of litigation can increase in ways that are impossible to predict at the outset.  This means that if at the beginning of a case, your solicitor is reluctant to be too specific about what the likely costs will be, that isn’t because they lack experience.  Actually, it means the exact opposite.  It means they have extensive experience of just how unpredictable litigation can be.  It also demonstrates that being against a litigant in person can have its advantages but can have its disadvantages too.  Finally, it shows that although Judges may be tempted to help litigants in person, they should actually treat them the same as everyone else.

In this particular case, it is a salient reminder of not only the benefits of having a properly drawn up will, but also having sufficient evidence that the deceased had mental capacity when they made their will and were not unduly influenced when deciding who to leave their assets to.

Kleyman & Co Solicitors.  The full service law firm.  Because where there’s a will, there’s a relative.