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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Wednesday 30 August 2017

How To Deal With A Provocative Lawyer

The Solicitors Regulation Authority regulates solicitors in their professional conduct. It acts independently of the Law Society. It can discipline a solicitor who breaks the rules about how they should behave. It has just spoken: in fact, it has just warned. This is because of an increase in the number of complaints it has received about solicitors going over the top in the content of their written communications, not just to the public on social media but to clients and to litigants in person. The Authority has told solicitors that they should take care to ensure that their communications are always professional, lawful and do not cause offence.

I told you so.
I told you so.
I told you so.

Oh shut up, Gold. Well, in my defence I need to say that I did deal with the problem in Breaking Law of litigants in person sometimes being intimidated by communications from  lawyers (who might be solicitors or barristers) for their opponent.   Guidance from their professional bodies tells them to avoid using inflammatory words and phrases which suggest or cause a dispute when there is none or inflame a dispute that already exists. The lawyer should also refrain from expressing a personal opinion about the conduct of the litigant in person.

Should you be on the receiving end of a lawyer's letter which breaks the rules, you may be able to use the situation to your advantage. After all, no lawyer who has communicated in terms which were inappropriate wishes to hear their correspondence read out in court and adversely commented on by the judge - or, even be reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, if a solicitor, or the  Bar Standards Board if  a barrister, for disciplinary action against them to be considered. Aggressive correspondence from one side can also be reflected in the order which the court makes on the costs of proceedings at the end of  a case.

You'll find the sort of letter you may send bank to the lawyer in response to their provocative correspondence in Breaking Law. Do remember, though, that it's a bad idea to match offensive words with offensive words. There's nothing more galling to a lawyer who has written a highly emotive letter that to be greeted with a reply which starts "I thank you for your letter of 30 August 2017, the offensive contents of which I note."