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  • Tracey O' Dwyer

I don't want a "soft" solicitor

Sometimes I get enquiries where people are looking for a fierce or aggressive lawyer. I understand it - it is a worrying time, and people are concerned that if their ex's lawyer is more fearsome, their ex might do better than them.

To be very clear. A lawyer who advocates alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, to avoid court, is not "soft". They are taking an approach, which, if shared by the other party, would very likely lead to reduced costs and reduced stress.. In other words, your best interests. It is not the same as laying down and accepting a poor outcome.

My approach is to try to resolve matters with non-court solutions, as set out here. However, it is also important to recognise where a client is throwing good money after bad, and the voluntary route is looking doomed.

I went around 2 and 1/2 years without issuing a court application on financial remedies (Form A) or receiving one. I felt I was "on a roll" However, in the second half of last year, I filed two applications. Were they necessary? Absolutely. Those cases were never going to settle along any sort of reasonable lines for my client, and the other party was failing to engage in any sensible process. The court is there, to my mind, as a last resort, and for those cases it was and is needed.

Proportionality is always important, but sometimes one party simply will not engage at all. They might be very content with the situation as it is, or they might have wholly unreasonable expectations. Even where there are no assets at the time, it is still important to get a final order, to protect against claims in the future.

In those cases, which should be rare, where a court application is an unavoidable necessity, or an assertive approach is needed, never assume that your lawyer who advocates a non-court/conciliatory approach, won't be up to the job. Do however beware of a lawyer who makes little or no effort to settle your case and is encouraging you to the court process without good reason. My firm view remains that the non-court approach is the best way and in a client's best interests, but it is not always possible as it does take two to tango.

If you would like to get in touch, you can do so here.


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