Citizens Advice Moves Towards Charging for Legal Advice
The Gateshead Citizens Advice Centre has recently created Job Law in response to demand for employment help.
This marks Citizens Advice taking its first tentative steps into charging for advice – and marketing itself as a cheaper alternative to traditional law firms and solicitors.
Job Law offers a free 15-min consultation followed by advice charged at £88 an hour, which still sounds like a lot of money for people looking for free advice from their local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Job Law say they provide “a renowned, low cost, comprehensive legal advice for all aspects of your working life, including case work and representation service”.
The branch has charged clients for employment advice since April 2013, when Legal Aid for Employment Law was stopped, but it’s only in the last couple of months that the branch has rebranded the offer.
Job Law states that “High Street solicitors’ fees – at around £180 per hour or more, are too costly for many people and No Win No Fee Solicitors can take as much as 40% from any settlement gained. As a solution, Job Law provides a half-price, professional legal advice service for employment claimants. The first consultant is free and any further advice required is on a “pay as you go” basis.”
Areas covered by the service include unfair dismissal, redundancy, discrimination and TUPE transfers.
Alison Dunn, chief executive of Gateshead CAB, said: ‘It is really important that people have access to free and impartial face to face advice to help them solve their problems.
‘Each year Gateshead Citizens Advice provides free help to more than 10,000 people across a range of issues including debt, housing and finance.
“The Citizens Advice provides free advice to 1,800 employment issues a year, but not all can be resolved without legal help. With the removal of legal aid for employment issues and fees often too high for people in need, the bureau recognised there was an emerging advice gap for some employment problems.” Alison added.
“Another “great idea” based on “we are cheap”. This usually attracts the 5 plastic bags filled with really important documents brigade.” said one snooty lawyer over at the Law Gazette.