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Unbundling

View profile for David Rogerson
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Unbundling

In the context of legal services, the term 'unbundling' is used to describe provision of discrete acts of legal assistance under a limited retainer, rather than a traditional full retainer where a solicitor typically deals with all matters anticipated from initial instructions until the case is concluded. Unbundling can operate on several different levels such as:

  • providing clients with self-help packs
  • providing discrete advice about a specific step or steps in a case or issue on one or more occasion
  • checking or drafting documents
  • advocacy or provision of a McKenzie Friend in certain circumstances.

The essence of unbundling in its purest form is that the case remains client-led so the solicitor does not necessarily accept service of documents, does not send out correspondence in the firm's name or otherwise communicate with third parties, does not incur disbursements and does not go on the court record.

Unbundling carries some specific risks for solicitors in relation to the following issues:

  • allegations of professional negligence arising from insufficient knowledge of the client's situation
  • allegations of professional misconduct in relation to client care and duties to the court and third parties
  • failing to explain to the client the extent and limitations of the unbundled services being offered
  • unwittingly creating a full retainer and the consequent liabilities
  • compliance with professional indemnity insurance terms
  • dealing with complaints

Unbundling can be extremely useful to clients who just want a limited amount of assistance at a cost effective price but the line between what the clients expects and what the solicitor is liable to provide must be clearly drawn.

If you wish to discuss any type of legal assistance, contact me on 01636 675563.

 

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