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Urgent advice needed

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  • Urgent advice needed

    I have posted before and google has not been my friend. Basically I am working myself up into a frenzy, worried about being arrested for "carrying out reserve legal activities" or "fraud by false representation", "acting as a solicitor" or "holding myself out to be a solicitor" - the more I google, the more possible offences arise!

    I didn''t sign anything or fill in any forms, other than a slip from the usher which asked for my name and my friends name (maybe address, not sure).

    I represented a friend In January at the final hearing in family court, this was opposing the level of contact the dad was seeking in a child arrangements order. The order was made, I questioned the mum (my friend) and the dad. I never said I was a solicitor, in fact I told the other solicitor I was just helping a friend. My friend knew I had a law degree, but she believed I was a solicitor as it is her belief that upon finishing the course you qualify (I now know this to be untrue!).

    I then went to 2 hearings in family court with another friend in March. The first hearing her ex didn't turn up, but a prohibited steps order was made (I barely spoke, but I did speak to the judges). Turns out he never received notification, so it was relisted the following week. On this occasion I questioned him and my friend. The order remained, and the matter was adjourned to give him time to get a solicitor.

    A month later, I went to court with the friend and met the ex''s solicitor, who went crazy at me saying it as a criminal offence and I could be arrested as I wasn't on the roll of solicitors. I said I wasn't aware I needed to be, as I was only helping out as a McKenzie Friend, and had assumed I was allowed to talk as nobody had said otherwise. She said I had held myself out as a solicitor by not making it clear I wasn't one and that I should have applied to be a McKenzie Friend. She said she would report me. I didn't go into the courtroom on this day, but my friend said the solicitor told the court she would be reporting me.

    The usher asked my friend if I was a solictor and she said yes. (I was in the toilet) the usher then asked me for my SRA number (I dont have one) my last employment and said that the legal advisor in court had asked her to ask me this. My last employment in any related field was in 2009 when I worked in a pest control company filling in legal forms to get clients sent to court to reclaim unpaid debt.

    The final hearing in this case is next week. It was delayed as my friend felt there was bias (I don't know why, this was the hearing I didn't attend). She is unhappy with the amount of contact her ex has with the kids. My friend now has a solicitor (ironically the same firm opposing me in January!) who apparently cannot make the hearing next week so she will be unrepresented or possibly paying for someone else. This hearing is before a judge (someone more senior she says)

    It has now been 4 months since the solicitor said she would report me and I haven't heard anything.

    Would the police have found me by now? My friends obviously know where I live but I didn't give the court any information as they never asked. They only have my name. Will they turn up at my work to arrest me? I work days in one job and a pub at night, both are 40 mins from my home.

    I am terrified that this judge next week will demand to know whats been done about me, or will make his own report - what happens then?

    I am terrified of prison, I have two young kids, no family at all (they're abusive), no friends, the kids' dad killed himself and his family are abusive... so what will happen to my kids? Will they send them to these abusive relatives? I'm all my kids have, if I go to prison they will never cope, eldest has PTSD and abandonment issues. I'm all the youngest one knows.

    I have an appointment with my GP next week to discuss my own mental health as my anxiety is getting bad, I am not sleeping as I am so scared. I'm mostly worried for my kids, they'd be terrified seeing me arrested, them having nowhere to go, coming home from school without getting to say goodbye to me as I've been sent down.

    I was only trying to help my friends, I wish I hadn't now. I wasn't paid or anything (other than small amount for expenses like fuel), I was literally just trying to help them out. Now my life is ruined.

    From what I've read, depending on what I'm charged with, it could be 2 - 5 years in prison! Worse cos it's family court!! "To maintain faith in the legal system" and reflect seriousness!!

    I tried calling a law firm but they didn't know much about it as it is so rare. They couldn't tell me when to expect police either.

    I'm constantly on eggshells - could they arrest me in 2 weeks, 2 months, 6 months? A year later? Can I ever relax? Is there a warrant out for me? How would they even find me as I'm not on the electoral roll yet? (moved a year ago, still waiting!)
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  • #2
    Probably best advice is to stop googling ... you'll be reading worst case scenarios - cases where nothing happens don't make it on to the internet so you are getting a very skewed view on what happens in reality. You're not going to prison - if you read properly any cases where the offence had resulted in prison you'd see that the activities were far more serious than just attending court ( falsifying mental health reports and such like ).

    You were in the wrong though - sadly the law degree doesn't teach you about court rules and processes. Did you correct your friend as soon as you realised she thought you were a solicitor ?

    For future reference you'd be acting as a lay representative not a Mckenzie friend - and you ( well the person you are helping ) should ask permission of the court to do so. Mckenzie friends do not address the court just support /make notes / whisper to the 'client' to help them with the case. Lay reps can act on behalf of, address the court etc but only with permission from the court.

    Any support I provide is offered without liability, if you are unsure please seek professional legal guidance.

    Received a Court Claim? Read >>>>> First Steps


    • #3
      It seems to me that you were motivated by a desire to help your friend, rather than trying to obtain a pecuniary advantage by deception. Unfortunately, in an excess of zeal aimed at helping your friend, you inadvertently committed a number of criminal offences.

      It is to your credit, that you now recognise that you did commit these offences.

      It is also to your credit, oddly enough, that you are now anxious about the consequences should you be prosecuted for those offences. Should that happen, and I hope it does not, you have no defence, and no doubt your professional advisers will be urging you to plead guilty.

      Given the circumstances, I do not believe that you are likely to be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, but the court may well impose a fine and a community service order.

      I am sorry that my writing will give you little comfort, but there it is.


      • #4
        Seems to me like this solicitor played her card well, she got an unfair advantage in the room by removing the legally qualified person on your friends side. Besides mentioning it in the room and thus the usher having to do things I wonder whether she could be bothered actually reporting it?

        I wouldn't worry too much, I doubt a police officer would come to arrest you at your work if she has and it's more likely they would invite you in for an interview under caution. If they do in a prepared statement tell them the story and no comment there after. Make sure you get a solicitor or the duty bod because while you know the law, they know the process and the dirty tricks.

        Both the Mens Rea and Actus Reus are applicable in criminal law, nobody can accuse you of having had a motive to deceive that would satisfy any sort of Mens Rea for fraud by false representation or probably any of the other possible offences for that matter.

        My posts here are based on my experience of a variety of life events. I have no formal legal training & if in doubt take professional legal advice or contact CAB. If you follow anything I write here you do so at your own risk & I accept no liability for any loss, costs or other outcomes.

        Private messages are disabled as help is only offered publicly. I do not come on here in the evening, at weekends or on public holidays.


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