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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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I took out a small claim against a firm I was supplying our

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I took out a small claim against a firm I was supplying our service to who terminated prematurely and without notice but who did not pay the termination fee. I got judgment, partly because she did not attend the hearing. However she is now claiming that judgment was against as her limited company while I thought it was against her as an individual. I issued the claim against "Amanda Towers & Co" but according to guidance I've found online it looks like I should have issued it against "Amanda Towers t/a Amanda Towers & Co", to make it clear I was pursuong the individual "trading as" and not the company.
So my question is, if I apply to have the name of the judgment debtor changed, what chance do I have of succeeding?
My arguments would be
1. My main argument would be that the original agreement (which was the basis of the case) was with the individual "trading as". My basis for this is that the agreement was with "Amanda Towers & Co" with no mention of limited company. She is an accountant called Amanda Towers, and accountants quite commonly stick "& Co" on the end of their trading names even when they're individuals trading as. *However* she has a limited company called Amanda Towers & Co. But none of her correspondence with me at the time she signed the agreement mentioned the limited company. Her website at the time also had no mention of limited company [amandatowersandco.com]
2. She seems to have shut down the limited company she had at the time she set up the agreement with me. That was called Amanda Towers & Co. After this the claim was issued in July 2015 she set up a new company called Amanda Towers & *Company*. Thus if judgment is held to be against the limited company with whom she claims we had the agreement, it would be difficult/impossible to enforce. Thus is would be unjust to switch judgment to the limited company.
3. She has had every chance to respond to the case but hasn’t. She received all the paperwork for the case as an individual, as well as all the notifications of hearings. However she kept putting off the hearing date, coming up with excuses about her diary, and then eventually failed to attend the hearing once it was finally set. Thus assuming she tries to claim the agreement was with the limited company and/or the judgment was against the limited company, I would want to portray this as yet another attempt to avoid justice.
thanks
sean sinclair
PS Please do not publish my name or her name
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you.

Has Judgment been entered please?
Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi Alex, Sorry I only just came across this response. Yes, judgement has been entered.Kind regards
seanPS Apologies for the delay replying, I think justanswer.co.uk needs to change its systems. I got an email from them to say that my credit card had been debited but I did not get any email to notify me that you had responded. I believe justanswer should change their systems to notify when responses are posted. This is actually quite an urgent case for me and it would have made a big difference to me to know that you had responded on the day I posted the query. Thanks for your speed - but in my view you were let down by the back office!!
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
PS please could you not publish this case for now. My worry is that the details could help my opponent in planning her approach
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Sadly it can only be removed from view once you rate. I can send your feedback to the development team as sadly I only see the questions when asked.

Just to be clear Judgment has been entered and you want to change the name of Judgment you already have?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
That is correct
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Are they both a Limited co or not?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
No, please see original notes - one entity is limited and the other is her trading as. The debtor would like the judgment to be against the limited company, presumably because she can then evade payment (she closed down the company when I issued the claim). In contrast, I want the judgment to be against her personally, trading as "Amanda Towers & Co".I thought the above was clear from the original notes, but maybe my notes were not clear. Please could you let me know if anything else in the notes is not clear. Obviously I am keen that you do not miss any relevant facts through my failure to communicate them clearly.Thanks
sean
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Then you can't just apply to amend the ccj and change name. You need to make a formal application to substitute the parties. It's not just a change of name, you are changing the actual party.

The cost of the application is £100 without a hearing and £255 with a hearing.

If there is no issue with the identity of the true defendant you will be ok, otherwise you may have to re issue proceedings and start again if the True party wishes to defend.

But you are making an application under CPR 19.2

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
But my position was going to be that the name change was *not* a change of parties. I wanted to argue that the party named in the original claim was in fact Amanda Towers trading as "Amanda Towers & Co". The original defendant was not the limited company. I wanted to say that I didn't name the limited company, I named the sole trader. But the problem was that I didn't name her unambiguously enough, in other words I didn't specifically name the defendant as "Amanda Towers trading as Amanda Towers & Co", which is what I should have done.So I believe it is not a change of parties. It is merely a clarification of who the original named party was
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

I understand that. But the Limited company is a change of party, it is an entirely separate legal entity. If it was Amanda Towers t/a company 1 and then you wanted to change to Amanda Towers t/a company 2, there would not be an issue.

But a Limited company is an entirely separate company and they MAY wish to defend it.

That is why the Judge may not allow it, on the other hand a Judge may do so.

I am just telling you what could happen

Does that clarify?
Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
firstly a quick note. You refer to "company" twice. But the party I want to pursue is not a company but a sole tradershipmore important, your suggestion that I will be applying to change party presupposes that currently a particular party (a company) is named as the debtor, and I wish to change it to a different party (a sole tradership). But as per my original notes, that’s not the situation. Instead, I wish to argue that in my original claim, the (purported) sole tradership in question has *already* been named as the defendant/debtor. Correspondingly, if the debtor objects to my upcoming application, the objection would have to be that actually, my *original* claim did not name any such sole tradership but instead named a limited company.In other words, both sides would be arguing about the identity of the defendant named in the original claim. So the dispute would not be about whether I should be allowed to change parties but about a (purported) ambiguity regarding which party was named in my original claim.I have to be honest, I'm not 100% confident that you've understood what I'm trying to do. Is there someone else there who can have a look at this?Many thanks
sean
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Let me re-cap then to show that I understand this.

You have Judgment against the Limited Company "Company"

You want to change that to the non limited company i.e. the sole trader "Trader".

You want to know if you can write to the Court and just change it.

I have understood your position. In law the Company is its own legal entity. The Trader is an individual regardless of whether they are trading. The Court will not simply change the name. The individual or Trader will have an opportunity to defend any new claim, because they are separate and NOT the Limited company.

Its not as if you just happened to get the name incorrect by mis-spelling it, you sued the WRONG legal entity. Therefore the Court will not substitute and change parties. You will have to issue against the trader who is an individual.

Does that clarify Sean? This is also in the commentary of the civil procedure rules and in particular CPR 19 which deals with change of parties/substitution etc.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
34;You have Judgment against the Limited Company"nothats the point at issueI wish to argue that the judgment is against the sole trader, trading as "Amanda Towers & Co". That's who I would argue the original claim named. The fact that the individual owns a limited company with a similar name does not mean she cannot simultaneously trade as a sole trader under a similar name (I believe it's quite common)
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

I asked if you named the limited company and you said yes.

To be clear what name is ***** ***** claim form?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
can't see where I said that?as per original notes, I issued the claim against "Amanda Towers & Co"in other words the name on the claim form is "Amanda Towers & Co"call this the phraseTo recap: I wish to claim that the phrase denotes the individual, trading as "Amanda Towers & Co". No doubt the debtor will claim that the phrase denotes the limited company. So I aim to orient the dispute around the purported ambiguity of "Amanda Towers & Co", and then present the evidence mentioned in my original notes to support the claim that the phrase was most reasonably taken to denote the individual and not the limited company.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
therefore I should be allowed to vary the name of the judgment debtor to unambiguously denote the individual - eg to say "Amanda Towers trading as "Amanda Towers & Co"" - my grounds being that this reflects what was clearly intended on the original claim form)
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Thanks, ***** ***** clear you have submitted a claim as Amanda Towers and co when you should have done it as Amanda towers trading as Amanda towers and co.

You need to make a formal application using form n244 under cpr to amend the name.

You are not adding or changing a party, simply amending the name. You need to make this clear in the application.

You can't just write to the court you will have to do this on a formal application notice.

The link to that application notice is here

http://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/hmctsformfinder/n244-eng.pdf

Can I clarify anything for you?

Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
OK thanks, ***** ***** original question was: What chance do I have of succeeding? That's where I need the advice. I assume my opponent will object, so what will the argument turn on?
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

You should issue an application not on notice, so without a hearing.

They cant really object - its the same person.

Its not as if you are changing from sole trader to Limited company or the other way around.

Make sure you do it on the papers, then its only administrative.

They have no legal argument to object

Does that clarify? Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
right fair enough - be fantastic if it works - *but* it's not guaranteed - the judge may well order a hearing (eg if judge spots similarity between sole trader name and company name, judge may want to hear both sides before going ahead).So - the defendant will then object and I will present case as above. In that case, what will the argument turn on and what's my chances?
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

I think your chances are good. The individual and the 'trader' are one and the same. No prejudice caused.

Does that clarify? Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
But won't the debtor be able to put a case based on above-mentioned ambiguity? She will argue that the phrase used on the original claim form was most reasonably taken as denoting the limited company and *not* the individual. So, contrary to my assertion that my application merely disambiguates a phrase that always referred to her as an individual, she will argue that my application would lead to a de facto change of party. She will therefore say my application should be disallowed.
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

No. Its the same person. The 'Trader' or or individual are one and the same.

Therefore you should get it.

Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
no they're not. The individual in question owns a limited company. It is a separate entity. But I don't want to pursue the limited company. I want to pursue her, the individual. See all the notes above.So the question is:Will the judge take the phrase used on the claim form as denoting the individual or the limited company?Your answer presupposes that the correct answer to this question is "the individual". But I can't presuppose that. Prior to the hearing, my dispute with the debtor will be *predicated* on the ambiguity of the phrase used on the claim form. So the above question will be an open question until such time as the judge makes his/her decision. So I can't just walk into the hearing and *announce* that the phrase refers to the individual. That’s begging the question at issue. I will need to *demonstrate* that the phrase should be taken as referring to the individual not the company.So my original question is focused on what that argument about this question will turn on. Amanda Towers will argue that the judgment debtor is the limited company. I will argue that the judgment debtor is the individual. I will put the arguments mentioned in my previous notes to you. The question is, will I win - eg are the arguments relevant and what will the judge be guided by?
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

I know that. You are suing Amanda Towers & Co but you should have issued Amanda Towers t/a Amanda Towers & Co

You are not suing the Limited company. So its a non argument, the entity is the SAME as the individual because its a NON LIMITED COMPANY. Yes I think you will win. The Judge is guided by CPR 19

Does that clarify? Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Sorry but I still don't think you've understood my worry. Let me take an extreme case as a comparison, and then come back to this one. The following is an imaginary case, just to make the issue clear.Suppose there's this guy called ***** ***** who owns a limited company called Madeleine Jones & Co, Ltd. However the Madeleine Jones name is ***** ***** by the limited company, never by ***** ***** the individual. I now issue a claim in the name of Madeleine Jones & Co. I get judgment and then apply to get the name of the judgment debtor changed, claiming I made a mistake. The name I try and change it to is:***** ***** trading as Madeleine Jones & CoWell, in that case surely ***** ***** the individual would have a valid complaint. The original claim form quite clearly designated the limited company. You can't just issue a claim which is quite clearly against one entity, and get judgment, but then just pay £100 to get the name changed to some completely different entity (eg because that different entity will be easier to pursue for the cash).Similarly, I can't just get judgment against Amanda Towers' limited company and then change name to the individual - any more than I could get judgment against the individual and then pursue Unilever! There must be limits, surely?And surely the limit is in terms of whether the phrase used to denote the defendant on the claim form could reasonably be taken as denoting the entity I'm now trying to name with my amendment?And that means that if Amanda Towers can make a case that my claim form named the *company* and not the individual, surely that could influence the judge to refuse my application to amend the name? In which case I will need to make put my arguments, as per the above notes?
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Do you want to accept the phone call, I will get the price reduced. It may be easier to discuss it.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
to be honest it would kind of hack me off - I don't feel we've even started discussing my original question. It seems to me like we've spent almost the whole time with you answering other questions, or getting the wrong end of the stick, and me trying to clarify my original question focused on how the argument will go.Could you have a go at responding to the above - then if we don't manage to understand each other maybe a phonecall?
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Lets just be clear -

1) You do NOT have Judgment against the Limited company

2) You HAVE Judgment against Amanda Towers & Co
Is that right? Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I have a judgment with a name on it. The question is WHO does that name denote. As mentioned previously, that’s probably the main issue here: WHO is the judgment debtor in this case?the issue arises because of the ambiguity of the phrase used on the claim form (well, Amanda Towers will say it's ambiguous). I will say the phrase denotes the individual, but she will say it denotes the company.to understand the issue, could I ask you to re-read our exchanges above before replyingfor example, as per my very first notes, it is important that the name I attribute to the (purported) sole tradership is almost the *same* as the name of the limited company.also important that my opponent doesn't actually trade under the sole tradership, as far as I know. In other words, she runs her business through the limited company - eg I bet the bank accounts are in the name of the limited company.So why did I think I was dealing with an individual? Because she doesn't mention the limited company anywhere - not on her website or in her emails to me. As a result, my agreement with her didn’t mention the limited company either. I assumed (reasonably) that I was trading with an individual/sole tradership.but she will be able to say that there is only one active trading entity in the UK that has the name I'm trying to amend to - that being the limited company, not a sole tradership. She will then try to argue that the entity named in the judgment must be the company, not the individual, since there is no *active* sole tradership with that name, only a limited company. The company trades under that name, the individual doesn't.at the beginning you switched from initially saying I needed to change parties to then saying I merely need to change name. That’s exactly what I want to do. But my opponent will claim that the change of name would be a de facto change of party, from the company to the individual. The judge could take that as reason to refuse my application.So I need to deny that the change of name involves a change of party. I need to argue that the name used on the claim form denoted the individual from the very start, for the reasons given.
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

To be clear you have Judgment againist Amanda Towers & Co - is that right? yes or no.

It does not say Limited - is that right? yes or no

Once you confirm this I can say whether my original advice was correct.

Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi1. the exact name give in the judgment is ...Amanda Towers & Co Accountants2. There is no "ltd/limited" on it
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

And you want to enforce against Amanda Towers personally, is that right?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
oops had to go out, just back.......yes thats right
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Sure. Then my advice above remains the same. You are applying under CPR 19.
But ONLY to amend / correct a name, NOT to change or add a party.

If its a Non limited company then Amanda Towers will ALWAYS be personally liable.

If it a partnership or sole trader she will be liable.

Its only where the Accountant is a Ltd company would it make any difference.

So yes, a Judge will do it because there is NO material change. Its the same person

Does that clarify? Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
OK thanks. But please, specifically reassure me on the point I've raised several times, regarding the possible ambiguity of the phrase I used to name the defendant. Then I will be happy!Specifically, you're taking it as given here that the claim/judgment names the *individual* not the company.But that’s NOT a given. Its precisely what my opponent will deny. She will say the judgment does not name the individual but the company.So, could you specifically address that question of the possible ambiguity in the phrase used to denote the defendant/debtor.Are you saying there is NO ambiguity. Are you saying that "Amanda Towers & Co" *definitely* names the individual not the company, even though there is a company with a similar name.Only then can we conclude there will be no material change.
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

There is no ambiguity. Its one and the same. That's it.

There is no difference between the AT & CO and AT.

She is liable. I think you are getting worried about nothing.

The Judge will be with you. AT & CO and AT are the SAME in law.

Does that clarify?
Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
that is simply because the "ltd" is missing off the end, so it will be deemed to be her not the company
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Correct.

Thats it - its that simple. I think that is where we were confused between us!

Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
ok fine, so the similarity of the debtor name to her company name is *irrelevant* as long as the "ltd" is missing.In that case I think we are there! Got there in the end, thanks for sticking at it
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Correct, thats it in short!
Can I clarify anything else for you? If not could I invite you to rate my service.

Sorry it took so long, but we got there in the end.

Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
OK that’s fine, yes I will rate you. But sorry just to squeeze in one last clarification - going back to my Madeleine Jones case, I presume the reason I'm OK in this case, but would not be OK in that case, is simply that in my case, the sole tradership name *includes* the individuals name. Is that the difference? Whereas in the Madeleine Jones case the purported sole tradership did not use the individual's name.(the reason I ask is that I'm assuming a judge would not allow a similar name change in the Madeleine Jones case - because that would allow any claimant to get a judgment against some totally invented entity and then get it name-changed to the individual they wanted to pursue)that's my last question!
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

In the MJ case that is OWNED by a Ltd company so you would need to sue that Limited company (as owner).

You couldnt sue ***** ***** if he owned the Ltd company as the Ltd co gives him protection.

This does NOT apply in your case. You sued the firm which is non limited and therefore the individual does not have this protection.

So your theoretical case does not apply to you.

Does that clarify?
Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Sorry, had to nip out againNo, the Madeleine case had the same structure as this case, in terms of the entities involved. The individual in question owned the company in question. But as the story goes, in the claim, I named a sole tradership (in other words, company name minus the word "Limited"). And also as the story goes, actually, there was no such sole tradership. In other words, the individual was NOT trading under the name given in the claim. In fact, the individual was not trading at all, as an individual. They were trading entirely through the limited company.So, in that case it seemed unfair that I could sue some non-existent sole tradership, and subsequently change names to identify the individual.But all the facts in that case parallel the facts in this case, bar the specific names. So in this case there seems to be potential for the same unfairness. Specifically, I've named a sole tradership which my opponent has never heard of. Now I'm going to use a name change to get that individual explicitly named.
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Hold on - I asked you about the Limited Company.

You said you should have sued Amanda Towers t/a Amanda Towers & Co

Are you now saying you SHOULD have sued the Limited company instead?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
No, I need to pursue the individual, so forget that question. (My grounds for this are that I took myself to be trading with an individual. Now having said that, the individual did not *intend* to trade as an individual - she just accidentally forgot to put the word "ltd" on her website and in her communications with me. But that’s her problem - I'm happy because it will be easier to get money out of her than out of her company).The point of this query isn't who I need to pursue, the point is how easy it is to get an individual invovled who didn’t realise they were involved.Forget any talk of intentions. When I'm applying to change names, I'm sure it doesn't matter who I originally *intended* to sue; it only matters who is ACTUALLY named in the claim.So let's look at who is actually named. The point of the Madeleine case is that the initial claim names a non-existent entity, ie a sole tradership trading name which no-one is actually using. (It doesn't name the company because it lacks the word limited; it doesn't name the individual since he is called ***** *****).Hmm, non-existent entity. That looks like a problem for the claimant. But actually it's not - because hey pesto, I can apply to get the name changed to "***** ***** trading as Madeleine Jones". Suddenly the judgment debtor is converted from a non-existent entity to a particular individual.It all looks too easy. it should not be that easy to get judgment against a trading name that no-one is using, and then slip in the individual's name afterwards. But that’s the complaint that my opponent will have. She will say she doesn't trade as an individual.Does the query make sense now? It just seems puzzlingly easy to change names and pull in an individual who didn’t realise they were the subject of the claim.
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

If its a non limited company then its easy.

The individual is personally liable regardless.

Here its obvious: Amanda Towers & Co - there can be no doubt its Amanda Towers

So you are worrying for no reason.

You dont need to worry about other situations, they just done apply

Does that clarify? Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
OK so you mean with the Madeleine case it's not obvious that ***** ***** was the named individual but here it is obvious that Amanda Towers is the named individual, yes?
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Correct.

Here it is. No prejudice. Does that clarify? Alex

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Customer: replied 9 months ago.
right - because of the obviousness? No prejudice to Amaanda Towers because it was obvious; prejudice to ***** ***** because it was not obvious?
Expert:  Ash replied 9 months ago.

Quite right. I hope this helps and good luck. Alex

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
right thats great thanks

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