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A day in the life of Argo.....

Sometimes being a legal executive regulated firm is hard. There are many things that cause us more trouble than the conventional solicitor firms. Some days are really difficult because of the challenges we face but others are amazing. Like yesterday ..........

Argo had been approached by an elderly gentlemen at an information event we attended. He advised us his partner of ten years had died in June and that the executors of her will had issued eviction proceedings to force him to leave his property. After three solicitor letters and no contact from his "stepchildren" to help him find alternative accommodation he was scheduled to attend an eviction hearing yesterday. This gentleman is 92 years old, an Armed Forces Veteran and he lives with mobility and health problems. He has little savings and lives on his state pension and war pension.

He had approached another solicitor for advice who had charged him £1600 for one visit and provided a quote for further work to challenge the estate of his late partner. He had received no advice or support and they had not listened to what he wanted to do. He wanted to leave the house and start again so he could be happy somewhere for the remainder of his life.

He applied to go on the housing register for accommodation but was told there was a three month delay in processing applications. He did not know how to prepare a defence to possession proceedings nor could he afford to employ someone to argue his case. We said we would help him.

You may not know that legal executives cannot represent their clients in Court because we are not given automatic rights of audience like solicitors. We have to complete extra qualifications to be able to do this or qualify as a solicitor. Not all legal executives have qualified as litigation experts but that does not mean we cannot argue for what is fair and just.

We received the Court bundle from our client on Thursday to review. The executors of the estate were claiming £6800 in rent for the period from the death of his partner and the solicitors they instructed were claiming costs of just under £10,000.

Some positives! Our client had been in contact with the Royal British Legion to see whether they could assist with accommodation as he was a Veteran. Not everyone knows that the Legion can help with accommodation. He was lucky. They had an available property. He had been able to sign a tenancy agreement and the Legion did as much as they could to make sure the keys were available for him to move into as soon as possible. He was giving a moving in date of 5 December. Our client was able to arrange assistance from a fabulous removal company who helped him to pack and move his home. We were able to arrange a fantastic clearance company who removed all items he could not take to him new home to sell at auction. We went to the Court hearing on his behalf.

So, what happened at the hearing?

Whilst we could not provide evidence, the Judge asked us the position with our client. We told her the facts. It was very clear from the conversations that took place in the Court the Judge was not happy with the case sat before her. It must have been another sad and desperate case for her which could have ended up so differently. The Judge decided there was to be a 75% reduction on the claim for rental income by the executors and a reduction the executors' cost to £1500. A fantastic and fair result for our client.

What did we learn from this?

Argo needs to continue to stand up for those clients who do not have a voice, whether through illness or lack of finance.

We always knew that legal executives are worth their weight in gold and are an equal to solicitors despite what others may say. You do not have to be a solicitor or work in a traditional solicitors firm to make a difference. It is about you, the adviser, your approach and the difference you make.

If you are an executor that needs to gain possession for a property you need to make sure that you do as much as you can to help the evictee to find alternative accommodation. Don't just simply expect to go to Court and get what you ask for.

We knew anyway that when we advise clients who are not married or are on their second or third marriages, that there needs to be significant discussion about what is to happen when one of them dies to avoid this exact situation from arising. Unfortunately, these events are all too common because of badly drafted wills and lack of thought. They can be avoided.

These are the days that the team at Argo get out of bed for!

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