There are a number of scenarios in which someone might need to consult the advice of an independent legal professional, although these might not always be immediately obvious. Let’s take a look at a few of the different circumstances in which you might be required to consult with a solicitor in this kind of specific professional capacity and whether ILA could be helpful for you.
What is ILA?
Independent legal advice (or ILA as it’s often abbreviated to in this context) was first conceived as a concept in the 1990s in response to a number of high profile court cases between banks and defaulted mortgage borrowers/guarantors. In order to protect borrowers from predatory lenders, and protect lenders from claims that borrowers were unduly pressured or didn’t understand the consequences of the agreement they were making, the House of Lords ruled that borrowers must seek ILA before any contracts can be entered into. This concept has since been applied to a number of other contractual circumstances to ensure that signatories understand the agreement they are making.
How does ILA work?
The signatory of the agreement being negotiated must meet with a solicitor alone in a face to face capacity (although this is often done via skype during the ongoing pandemic) in order to have the terms and conditions of the contract adequately explained to them. The solicitor will then sign a declaration, sometimes referred to as an Etridge letter after the original court case that sparked their creation, stating the signatory is informed of and understands their legal obligations before entering the contract.
Do I need ILA?
ILA is primarily used for scenarios where a party to an agreement is placed at risk but does not benefit from it, such as joint borrower, sole proprietor mortgages or transfers of equity, but it may also be used for other functions such as director guarantees or occupancy waivers. Family cases such as probate disputes may also sometimes require parties to be advised by an independent professional. Advice should be sought from a reliable specialist broker such as https://www.samconveyancing.co.uk/news/conveyancing/independent-legal-advice-4849.
Ultimately, ILA is a useful system which functions as the House of Lords envisaged by protecting both parties in the agreement and allowing contracts to be entered into with peace of mind. Make sure you find a well qualified professional to advise you when signing complex contracts like those outlined above.