The Courts and Tribunal system is an essential function in a modern democratic society. It gives individuals and wider society a means of having their disputes resolved or enforcing their rights through an independent judiciary. Although in the last 50 years or so, the courts and tribunals system has been more accessible to those without formal legal training, in order to gain the best legal advice and representation available, you often need to pay significant costs. Paying a solicitor is not an insignificant cost and most will have to think twice about whether or not they can afford it.
One of the ways that individuals or organisations can ensure that they have access to justice and to the independent court and tribunal system, (without paying a large costs!) is to obtain legal expenses insurance (LEI).
What is LEI?
LEI is a form of insurance that most individuals already have and are not aware of it! It is often attached to other and more common types of insurance policy as an optional extra that an ordinary household may have. For example, LEI may be attached to your home contents insurance as an individual, your landlord’s insurance as a landlord or your commercial business insurance as a small business. Next time you renew any insurance policies, check whether you already have it or not! If you don’t consider getting one as they will almost certainly cost considerably less than a solicitor’s hourly rate.
If a dispute arises with you and another individual or organisation, you could lodge a claim with your legal expenses insurer and see if that type of dispute is covered. If so, then you could get a solicitor appointed to assist you in resolving the dispute.
What types of disputes does it cover?
One of the types of disputes that are often covered are contract disputes. This may be a dispute that you have with someone that has done work in your home that you think is sub-standard (Or indeed that someone is alleging that you as a contractor have conducted sub-standard work). Another example would be a consumer rights dispute where you have bought or sold goods and a dispute arises out of the quality of the goods. You may also find yourself embroiled in a property dispute with your neighbour. For example, you may require advice regarding property damage caused by flooding, a dispute in relation to the legal boundary to your property or a dispute related to someone blocking your rights of access or right to park in and around your property.
For the ordinary person, these will be the areas that they are most likely to get into dispute over and require the assistance of a solicitor. Obtaining an LEI policy will mitigate that risk for you! Some criminal law matters may even be covered by an LEI such as motoring or speeding offences that you may be charged with.
Another type of dispute that would ordinarily be covered is disputes relating to the recovery of money. If you either owe, or are owed money by another individual or entity, you could be covered for having a solicitor attempt to recover the debt for you or to dispute the debt. Another common area that is covered for landlords with landlord’s insurance is cover to have a solicitor act for you to try to legally have your tenant removed from your rental property or to ensure that they pay their rent.
LEI policies will also often cover other types of legal dispute, such as employment law disputes or any disputes that arise out of a personal injury.
If you do not already have an LEI policy (make sure and check if you do!), you should consider getting one. It could give you access to an expert solicitor in your hour of need, without any significant expense to you.