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Category: Law
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Is defamation contentious?

Customer Question

Is it usual or ethical for a contract lawyer, who only deals with non-contentious issues, to take on a potential libel case?



Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 4 years ago.

AlexWatts2013 : Hello my name is Alex and I will help. All solicitors are complaint with the code of conduct that states that a solicitor will take on maters which they are competent to deal with. Contracts can be contentious especially if disputed. However if you are asking whether contracts and defamation are similar areas of law the answer is no. Would you generally expect a contract lawyer to deal with defamation or libel cases, no. That is not to say they can not, because if they want to learn an area of law, everyone has to start somewhere. But libel is a very specialist area of law and you would normally expect a specialist solicitor to deal with this
AlexWatts2013 : I hope this fully answers your question and if so would you please take a few moments to rate my service as it is important. If you need more help then please click reply. Alex
JACUSTOMER-prl1y27m- :

HI Alex. I am concerned that my solicitor has taken on more than they are qualified to cope with. If a case has the potential to be contentious early on, would it be ethical for a non-contentious contract lawyer to take that case on? Or would they take it on, up until the point where the courts became involved?

AlexWatts2013 : Would it be ethical - no. As mentioned above a solicitor must be competent to take on a case. Of course if this was pre action there would be nothing wrong with that as it is likely there are only letters etc involved. If proceedings are issued the solicitor could even use counsel to settle the particulars, but of course this would incur expense. I would have expected a solicitor to decline this sort of work that just deals with contracts. Alex
JACUSTOMER-prl1y27m- :

Thanks Alex.

JACUSTOMER-prl1y27m- :

I have one more question.

AlexWatts2013 : Yes please
JACUSTOMER-prl1y27m- :

If the contract lawyer was initially investigating a contract's legal status. And, in the course of that investigation, the issue of libel (vis a vis an attempt to discredit a client's business reputation) came up, would you expect the contract lawyer to advise and act (eg by issuing a cease and desist letter) on the libel issue. Or refer the client to a libel specialist?

AlexWatts2013 : If the matter was a straight forward one and the issue was not too complex there would be no harm in that solicitor exploring the issue. But if the solicitor realised that the matter was complex or beyond his realm of expertise then I would expect a solicitor to say so and consider withdrawing from instructions. Alex
JACUSTOMER-prl1y27m- :

Thanks Alex.

AlexWatts2013 : You are welcome. Unless I can help further I wish you a good night. Alex
JACUSTOMER-prl1y27m- :

The solicitor eventually reversed out of the case. But much too late in my opinion. I have been left with a huge bill and but no real improvement on my situation. I have had to find a new solicitor and go through the whole process with them, costing time and money.

AlexWatts2013 : What you can do is complain the managing partner of the firm. Someone will be appointed to handle complaints on their behalf. Your complaint will be reviewed and considered. Further if you are unhappy with the response you are entitled to ask the court to review the costs. This is called a costs assessment and a judge would go through the bill item by item and see I the charge was fair and reasonable and whether the time spent was appropriate. The judge can reduce or not allow any item charged for. Alex
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 4 years ago.

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