Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tesco Law in action

A few weeks ago, I was (initially) somewhat flattered to receive an invitation from a financial organisation (who will remain unnamed) regarding the delivery of a new possession proceedings service.

"I am aware of your expertise in the field of residential landlord and tenant law" ran the letter, "and am writing to you to explore whether we can work in partnership together". Happy to know that at least one person is aware of my expertise, I rang to find out more. However after speaking to the gentleman, my interest diminished considerably, in fact down to zero. The situation was this.

The company wants to offer a cheap and cheerful possession service to the public. However as they are not a firm of solicitors they cannot (as yet) issue the proceedings themselves. They therefore need a firm of solicitors to do this for them. "We will draft all the paperwork" said my correspondent, "all you have to do is issue the proceedings and then, if necessary, instruct the bailiffs".

Sounds good? Well not really. The claims would be issued under my firms name. So if there was anything wrong with them and a negligence claim followed, it would be my professional indemnity insurance which would be on the line. Therefore I would have to check all the paperwork before issue to make sure that it was correct. So there would really be the same amount of work as if I were drafting it up myself. And they were offering to pay me £50.

When I first heard him say £50 I found it difficult to believe that I had heard him correctly. For that I would have to receive the paperwork, open a file, check it was correct, send it off to court, log the details on receipt, instruct the agent to attend the hearing, and then deal with their report. That would be for the straightforward cases where there is no defence filed. As gently as I could, I told him that it was not something I was really interested in.

I don’t know if he will find a firm prepared to work for him. I suspect not. In fact I would hope that no solicitors firm will be prepared to issue proceedings which have not been drafted by a partner or member of staff. And although the company were offering to ‘work in partnership’ I feel pretty sure that if there were any Tesco law type rule changes which allowed them to issue the claims themselves, the 'partnership' would be fairly swiftly ended.

But is this the future I ask myself? Large financial organisations mopping up all the customers and using solicitors at knock down rates, to do the grunt work? Well hopefully not in my firm.

But it would be interesting to know if any other firms have had similar approaches.

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1 comment:

Usefully Employed said...

I was employed by an insurance company for a while, effectively doing an employment lawyer's job. The company also did a landlord's insurance policy. Any possession claims that were accepted under the policy were outsourced to solicitors, albeit I think on better terms than you've experienced. However, many a manager in that department was looking forward to the inevitable day (is it 2012?) when they can simply hire a couple of solicitors themselves.