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Aston Lawyer
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10347
Experience:  Solicitor LLB (Hons) 23 years of experience in Conveyancing and Property Law
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Ethics of paying my spouses solicitors fees up front

Resolved Question:

I am in the process of a divorce. My spouse's solicitor has offered to change the divorce petition from unreasonable behaviour to 2 years separation if I agree to pay both the court fees and my spouse's legal fees (i.e. before the solicitor's costs have been incurred). I am not unhappy to make this gesture but wonder how ethical this is? It seems to me that if I pay my spouse's solicitor's fees that I am encouraging further, and potentially unnecessary, legal activity that may not benefit either my spouse or myself What is your view please, and how would you advice me to respond to this request?

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 3 years ago.
Hello and thanks for using Just Answer.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX am happy to assist you with your enquiry.

So that I may answer you fully, have you already been separated for 2 years?

I look forward to hearing from you.

AL
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

For Aston Lawyer..


 


Yes - separated for over two years


 


Sorry, I thought the 2 year separation was implicit in my question, and is not really relevant to my question - my question was one of ethics and your advice on how to respond to this request?

Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 3 years ago.

Hi,

Thanks for your reply.

I only asked as regards XXXXX XXXXX years, so I was clear that the divorce could proceed straight away or whether there would be an element of waiting until the 2 years was up.

Anyway, as regards XXXXX XXXXX it is not unheard of for one party to pay the other's legal costs, so there is no harm in you agreeing to this.

However, I am sure you will want to know approximately how much the costs are going to be. What I suggest you do is that you write/email back to say you will consider their request provided they provide you with a top line figure as to the costs as well as a simple breakdown as to how these costs are calculated.
This will stop the Solicitor from plucking a figure out of the air, and once you have received this information, you could then agree to proceed, on the basis that you will pay their fees up to the sum of £X (X being the approximate fees they had quoted to you).

I am not sure if there are financial matters to be dealt with within the divorce and if so, whether you are considering paying these. If the costs are for the paperwork in dealing with the divorce itself, then you are looking at £350-£400 plus VAT.
If it is to include the finances and agreeing a division, these costs would be hard to quantify, as it all comes down to how quickly you both agree on any such division.

I hope this assists you. Please let me know if you want to clarify anything further.

Kind Regards
AL
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thankyou for your response and your advice - my question was about the ethics of paying, in advance, my spouse's solicitors fees. i.e "I am not unhappy to make this gesture but wonder how ethical this is? It seems to me that if I pay my spouse's solicitor's fees that I am encouraging further, and potentially unnecessary, legal activity that may not benefit either my spouse or myself"?


 


May I have an ethics view on this please


 


Your original answer was "Anyway, as regards XXXXX XXXXX it is not unheard of for one party to pay the other's legal costs, so there is no harm in you agreeing to this"


 


Many thanks - Alex

Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 3 years ago.

Hi Alex,

Thanks for your reply.

A Solicitor is entitled to take a payment upfront of their costs, whether it be the client's money or an interested third party (you). From that prospective, there is no harm in you paying upfront.

As regards XXXXX XXXXX then taking advantage of the situation, that is why I suggested you ask for a full breakdown of the costs before you agree to their proposal.

Does this help?

Kind Regards
AL
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

For Aston Lawyer


 


Thankyou for your reply - I think we are getting there, and appreciate your views - if I am the opponent (adversary), which is implicit in my question, does this feel ethical that I am being asked to pay for my spouse's solicitors fees, and before that service is provided? - i.e. does the proposal align with the SRA, Solicitors Regulatory Authority, as a reasonable and professional practice - it is just that this feels like a 'sharp practice', and one which does not feel ethically justifiable - it's like the hang man asking the condemned to pay for the rope?


 


I welcome your thoughts - Alex

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 3 years ago.

Good Morning,

You had mentioned in your post post that you were not unhappy to go along with the Solicitor's proposals and hence my subsequent replies.

The Solicitor is not in breach of any ethics rules by requesting that you pay his client's legal fees. You are of course free to decline his offer and your wife (or you) are of course free to issue divorce proceedings under any suitable head, whether it be the 2 year separation or unreasonable behaviour if there are sufficient grounds.

I hope this clarifies matters.

Kind Regards
AL
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10347
Experience: Solicitor LLB (Hons) 23 years of experience in Conveyancing and Property Law
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