What is Legal Lite?
In the next chapter of our ongoing blog series, Jackie McGuirk, CST Law Legal Services Director, provides some insight into Legal Lite, why this is a cost-effective solution and what the future holds for matters of insolvency.
A lot has changed since I joined Credit Style in 2017, but what always remains the same is the need for cost-effective solutions when a debt is owed. Pursuing smaller amounts is not always viable directly, but through solutions like Legal Lite, any case can be processed through the legal system. This gives businesses the best chance to secure a CCJ (County Court Judgement) and ultimately, recover what is owed in a way that makes economic sense.
How, when and why
Legal Lite is, in essence, an end-to-end solution from initial instruction through to and including judgement entry, providing a case is not defended. If a case is defended or becomes more complex, our experienced Legal Team will then manage the case to a full and final conclusion. In theory, a business can achieve a CCJ in this way for as little as £45, compared to securing similar outcomes through more costlier services often delivered by traditional law firms.
Obtaining a CCJ is highly beneficial as this affects credit ratings, which in turn makes borrowing more money problematic. This is both a deterrent and incentive for debts to be paid, as whether now or in future, the only way to clear this record will be to pay what is owed. Furthermore, this encourages a swifter solution, as payment within 30 days of judgement ensures the CCJ is wiped from credit files. If not settled in this timeframe, the record becomes irremovable and must appear for the following six years. Enforcement solutions are also able to be actioned once a CCJ has been granted.
Differentiating law firms and the impact on ROI
Credit Style Ltd is an ABS (Alternative Business Structure) operating in the name of CST Law. We were one of the first businesses to secure this multi-functional status whilst it was still a new concept and as such, have been scrutinised and assessed in great detail by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority). Any firm that operates in this manner requires a COLP (Compliance Officer for Legal Practice), whose first priority is to ensure compliance and adherence to rules and regulations. At Credit Style, this is my responsibility.
A key benefit to working with us is the cheaper costs we can charge in comparison to the traditional law firms. We are able to deliver services at such a low cost whilst employing a very experienced team due to over £1.8m of investment in our litigation platform which is a system called Vision. This investment has significantly improved operational efficiency which in turn leads to lower costs. There are parameters, set out by Government, that indicate what solicitors should look to charge. In Sheffield, where we are based, lawyers are subject to Band 2, which means a practitioner with 8 years or more experience typically charges around £250 per hour, those with 4 years’ experience £218 and trainees/paralegals £126. Comparatively, we charge a lower than the market rate, in many cases even complex or high-value debt requiring bespoke forms costing around £90 per hour.
Consultations and preparing for change
Insolvency is in a state of flux currently, with a lot of consultations taking place within the industry. Like every sector, how we operate has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and this will undoubtedly lead to further change. Since we were permitted to return to this activity, the rules around insolvency have already adapted but some outcomes have become complicated and unclear. There are a number of cases currently being rejected by the courts that previously and under interpretation of new guidance, appear to have merit. It is imperative that existing and new consultations reach an understanding of how matters on insolvency can be dealt with and remains fair and just for all parties involved.
Similarly, there are also reviews happening into the commencement as well as he litigation process, such as before a claim begins and the Letter of Claim that is required to be dispatched in accordance with the Pre-Action Protocol. The Bristow & Sutor Group (comprising Credit Style, Debt Recovery Plus and Bristow & Sutor) is committed to training and best practice, taking pride in being at the forefront of innovation and development. We aim to foster positive change and play an integral role in the conversations that will shape the future of the industry in addition to complying with the relevant rules and regulations