Looking After Number One

Who is Number One?

At Bennett Welch you are Number One: no one else.

Your interests and the interests of those you want to protect by instructing us are our sole concern. We do not have, and will not allow, any arrangements with anyone else that might compromise this.

It really should be easy. If you instruct a solicitor, you expect that you are Number One. Unfortunately, that assumption is often wrong. All too many solicitors have entered into arrangements that interfere with this basic right.

What does being Number One mean?

When you instruct a solicitor, you expect him or her

  • To be an expert, fully qualified to deal with your matter
  • To give you independent advice, acting exclusively for you and for your benefit alone

Why might I not be Number One if I instruct another law firm?

With all too many law firms much legal work is dealt with by people who have no legal training whatsoever and are not solicitors, or other suitably qualified persons (Trust and Estate Practitioners, Fellows of the Legal Institute of Legal Executives or licensed conveyancers).

Even where a real solicitor is instructed, there is no guarantee that he or she will be an expert in the relevant area of law.

These practices create real risks for clients, particularly in the areas of law where they are most common: residential conveyancing, wills and probate, family and much litigation.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) governs solicitors. The SRA is an organisation funded by, but wholly independent of, the solicitors’ profession. The SRA, bowing to pressure from large commercial organisations, has repeatedly refused demands that legal work should only be carried out by suitably qualified persons with proven expertise in their areas of law. Imagine the outcry if the medical profession’s regulators bowed to similar commercial pressure!

The SRA, again bowing to pressure from large commercial organisations, and again ignoring objections from independent solicitors, now allows arrangements between solicitors and third parties (estate agents, “specialist” or “comparison” websites, financial services salesmen, banks, funeral directors, insurers, etc) involving the payment or receipt of “referral fees” (commissions), even though such arrangements do not benefit the client.

These arrangements:

  • restrict clients’ freedom of choice – commercial organisations only recommend those solicitors who are prepared to pay commissions
  • restrict the quality of service given to clients – commercial organisations do not recommend solicitors for their qualifications and expertise, but for their willingness to pay for that recommendation
  • restrict the independence of advice given to clients – commercial organisations do not recommend solicitors who give independent advice to clients, but those who comply with the organisations’ commercial objectives

The Bennett Welch Looking After Number One Guarantee of independence:

  • We guarantee that we do not pay, and have never paid, referral fees to any third party
  • We guarantee our clients’ freedom of choice – we only accept instructions from our clients, not from commercial organisations
  • We guarantee that our clients’ matters are looked after by qualified solicitors, or a highly experienced Trust and Estate Practitioner, with the appropriate expertise
  • We guarantee that our clients receive impartial and independent advice, given solely for the benefit of our clients, not for the benefit of any commercial organisation

If a commercial organisation is pushing you in the direction of a law firm who cannot give this guarantee, you should insist on your right to instruct whoever you want – they often do not tell you that you are entitled to choose for yourself. Even if you have already instructed another law firm, it is not too late. Just ask them if they can match the Bennett Welch Guarantee. If they cannot, or will not, you have the right to insist your matter is immediately transferred to Bennett Welch.