Leicestershire legal expert condemns Government Wills inaction

One of the region’s best known law firms has hit out at the Government over its decision not to allow the regulation of Will writing

Chris Grayling, the Government’s Justice Secretary has (MAY 14) rejected a recommendation from regulator body the Legal Services Board that Will-writing should be regulated, a decision which is wrong claims senior Leicestershire legal expert Peter Chadwick.

Mr Chadwick, of law firm QualitySolicitors Mander Cruickshank said: “It is vital that law firms educate the public about the consequences of poorly drawn Wills.”

“The decision by Chris Grayling leaves some of the public at the mercy of the unscrupulous and incompetent,” added Mr Chadwick.

“Having a Will which is unclear or has not been properly executed is almost certainly worse than having no Will.”

Mr Chadwick added putting Will preparation in the hands of people who are experienced is the wise option.

“Whilst I am disappointed by the decision of the Ministry of Justice not to take the advice given by LSB that Will-writing should become a regulated activity, I am not really very surprised either, added Mr Chadwick, whose firm have offices in Coalville and Hinckley,” he said.

“The ministry of Justice will doubtless defend its decision on grounds of competition but is this wise when the matter is so important? After all you wouldn’t want your dentist to check your eyesight, or your car-mechanic to fit your new boiler,” he added.

He warned the public to be wary of Will-writing firms.

“In many cases their pricing structure is less that transparent” ,he said, “We regularly come across cases where clients have been charged up-front for – for example 25 years storage at £x per year, this on top of a fee for drafting a Will which is often considerably higher than the fee we would have looked to charge,” he said.

“The Government clearly isn’t going to protect consumers from themselves, so all we can do as a profession is to urge clients always to use a solicitor to write a Will, and not to risk the unregulated Will-writers market. Not everyone will take the advice, and some will pay the consequences,” he added.

In a Ministry of Justice statement, Mr Grayling said that a Legal Services Board report claiming that there is ‘consumer detriment’ in the will-writing market did not adequately demonstrate that regulating is the best solution.

He suggested the strengthening of existing regulation of authorised persons, combined with voluntary regulation schemes and codes of practice for non-authorised providers and called for better consumer education and greater use of existing consumer protections.

The Law Society, which originally lobbied for wills, to be regulated, reacted to the decision with dismay.

Desmond Hudson, Chief Executive of the Law Society said consumers have been let down by the decision.

“We provided plenty of evidence to the LSB, demonstrating that consumers are at real risk from certain unregulated will-writers who can be incompetent, untrained and uninsured,” he added.

“A solicitor is qualified and brings the comfort of an unrivalled regulatory and compensation system to put right any errors,” he said.

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