Advice and assistance accounts: delegation of work to unqualified person

To avoid difficulties at the accounts assessment stage, where an unqualified person has been delegated a particular task, an appropriate note including the instructions given by the qualified solicitor should be recorded on the file.

The following sections deal with the use of unqualified staff in giving advice  and where representation is being provided under ABWOR.

What chargeable tasks can unqualified persons appropriately carry out?

The definition of advice and assistance excludes unqualified staff from providing either advice or representation.  Only a solicitor or, where appropriate, counsel can provide advice and assistance.

Unqualified staff may gather information for you, or pass on your advice.  Whilst they may have specific tasks delegated to them, those tasks must not involve giving advice to the client which has not been formulated by a solicitor.  Where you have delegated a task to unqualified staff, such as drafting a document, we may ask you to clarify whether you have had any input to framing, revising or signing the document.

The following are some examples of appropriate and inappropriate use of unqualified staff:

Examples of appropriate use of unqualified person

  • A solicitor takes brief background information and advises the client as to the options available before passing the client over to an unqualified member of staff to obtain further information. No charge is allowable in connection with the time taken to satisfy yourself that the client is financially eligible and that the subject matter of any advice and assistance is a matter of Scots law, but time spent giving initial advice is chargeable.  A subsequent meeting with an unqualified person taking information from the client is also chargeable, at unqualified rates, providing that no independent advice is given.
  • Letters drafted by unqualified staff. A letter drafted by an unqualified person is chargeable provided the letter has been checked and signed by a solicitor.

Examples of inappropriate use of unqualified person

  • Initial advice given to a client without the involvement of a solicitor. This is not chargeable as only a solicitor can admit a client to advice and assistance.
  • Advice given to a client at any time without the involvement of a solicitor.
  • Unqualified member of staff giving advice outwith the presence of a solicitor – for example, in a prison or hospital. Advice given to the client, outwith the presence of a solicitor, in response to fresh information imparted by the client, is not chargeable under any circumstances.

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