Beware of dodgy legal advice: QLS
14 June 2017
Queensland Law Society president Christine Smyth has issued a warning for people to avoid taking legal advice and representation from unqualified fraudsters posing as lawyers.
Ms Smyth said there was growing concern in the profession people may be duped into taking “cheap’’ or “free" advice via the internet or from lay advocates holding themselves out as qualified legal practitioners.
“Beware of fraudsters who claim to be able to give legal advice," Ms Smyth said.
“There seems to be a growing number of arm chair experts who are giving legal advice and services against the law.
“In Queensland a solicitor is required to hold a practising certificate to be legally allowed to give advice and anyone who wants to make sure their representative is certified can do so by contacting the Queensland Law Society or via its website."
Ms Smyth pointed to the case of a 24 year old on the Gold Coast convicted of illegally engaging in legal practice on 12 occasions in 2013 and 2014.
During a two-day trial, the Brisbane Magistrates Court was last year told Jacob Reichman intervened in police interviews with so-called “clients" on the Gold Coast and failed to correct officers who assumed he was a solicitor.
“There have been others in the past who advised on matters such as divorce and family violence. These parties were also fined and ordered to pay costs," Ms Smyth said.
“Some of these cases have ended in money not being refunded by the advisor, meaning the client then must incur further costs by hiring a real lawyer."
Ms Smyth said other pitfalls in engaging an unqualified advisor included:
- right to confidentiality is not guaranteed
- right to privilege cannot be assured
- unqualified practitioners cannot obtain insurance, while qualified solicitors are required to
- and, non-certified practitioners are not bound by any codes of conduct or ethics.
“Having a qualified, educated and informed lawyer on your side will only assist you in your matter, whereas, an unqualified party will often cause you more trouble including higher costs," Ms Smyth said.
For further information, please contact Tony Keim on 07 3842 5835, mobile 0488 433 884 or via email, email@example.com.