The Court of Appeal has handed down a decision which should give considerable pause for thought to anyone who is tempted to use a 'law shop' or similar provider rather than a qualified and experienced firm of solicitors to handle their affairs.
The case was, in principle, simple. The woman who brought it was unhappy with the financial settlement she received on her divorce and considered that the firm which had acted for her with regard to it had been negligent in not advising her that she should not have agreed to the settlement offered.
The decision in the case ultimately depended on the contract between the woman and her advisers. In the view of the judge, and subsequently the Court of Appeal, the firm's retainer was limited in scope and dealt with the formalities of the agreement only. They did not have the wider duty to the woman to advise her on the wisdom or otherwise of accepting the settlement.