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If you have acquired a timeshare from a resort, then the chances are that you have come across a timeshare salesman. If now you believe that you were mis-sold your timeshare, or that the timeshare you acquired bears no resemblance to the representation made to you, then, of course, you have to concede that the salesman who sold it to you is of questionable standing (if they now want to profit from obtaining you an exit from the very product they sold you).

Ex-timeshare sales people are popping up in the legal profession at an alarming rate and should warrant extra consideration if you decide to engage with them in obtaining an exit.

The other matter consumers ought to consider is cold calling. Cold calling is legal under certain circumstances.  However, the caller by their very actions is promoting a legal product that ought not to be promoted.  In reality, if a consumer has a legal issue and they wish (after just contemplation) to address that issue, they should do so without enticement. To encourage someone to take legal action and/or enter an adventure they did not contemplate before the cold call came is abundantly mischievous and morally wrong. In any event, the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority discourages its members from acting if cold calling features in the client’s engagement.

How much should a consumer pay for legal services?

The cost of legal services varies from firm to firm and is dependent upon the experience of the legal representative.

In any event, it should like many professions be agreed between the parties.

The model of a willing buyer and willing seller comes to mind.  Any and all consumers are advised to listen to the representation made (make notes if you can) at any meeting and leave that meeting so as to justly consider what has been said, apply the risks and decide whether or not to engage the services of the legal company they sought advice from. To be faced by a salesman who wants you to sign up for an adventure without affording you time to consider is simply wrong, unfair, unreasonable and condemnable.

However, the basic formulas are quite simple:  Listen, consider, contemplate, check and then instruct.

Fixed fee

The fixed fee is a fee that is charged for the service regardless of the service’s actual cost.  It involves the provider claiming a fixed amount, regardless of hours spent or the work to be done to fulfil that service.

Hourly rate

These fee agreements are generally used when the cost of providing the service cannot be reasonably fixed. In many cases, the issues can vary. The variation does not facilitate a definite and if there is uncertainty (as to the amount of work required) then the most reasonable approach would be to conduct the service at an hourly rate. This will ensure that consumers are only charged for the work done and time spent.

Damages based agreement

This area of charging takes into consideration risk.  In some cases, the service provider can look at the initial issue in the case and, if a fee arrangement cannot be achieved, the service provider can opt to financially back the consumer’s case. If this is proposed by the service provider, he will demand that the risk they take is rewarded by an amount of damages – awarded.

This amount will depend on the level of risk. The smallest consideration is 25% and the largest offered is 50%. If significant funding is required, then, of course, those percentage rates could escalate even higher. Consumers have a need to understand that the higher the percentage rate, the more the funding provider sees the risk. In some cases, an independent and early evaluation is a good thing so that the prospects of success can be identified early.

In any event, as long as the consumer has been honest, they are at no risk of any adverse cost orders.

Paralegal Companies

TESS Law is a paralegal company that specialises in timeshare-related disputes between consumers and resorts. When contemplating legal action, the litigants can choose which areas they wish to have that dispute resolved. These areas include arbitration, fast-track courts, multi-track actions, ombudsman, mediation, without prejudices forums etc. Paralegals cannot represent consumers in such forums as “fast-track” cases and “multi-track” cases as they are a contentious business. In the event that a TESS Law client requires such representation, they will refer the client to a solicitor who is on their panel and TESS Law will discharge those fees in support of their client. At the same time, the engaged solicitor will owe a duty of care to the consumer and as such, will carry out the instruction and TESS Law will be merely the funding provider/ Mackenzie Friend.

Reserved Business

The Legal Services Board

Sections 2 to 7 and Schedule 1 create the Legal Services Board with a duty to promote the regulatory objectives.  David Edmonds was appointed the first chair of the Board on 23rd April 2008 and nine members were appointed on 17th July. The members took up a post on 1st September 2008 and the Board became fully operational on 1st January 2010.  The Board is to have a Consumer Panel to represent consumers (ss. 8-11). As of July 2008, no date has been fixed for the coming into force of the provisions about the Consumer Panel.

Reserved legal activities

Section 12 and Schedule 2 define six reserved legal activities:

  • Exercise rights of the audience
  • Conduct of litigation
  • Reserved instrument activities, being certain activities concerning land registration and real property
  • Probate activities
  • Notarial activities
  • Administration of oaths

This list can be amended by an Order in Council of the Chancellor (ss. 24-26).

Section 12 then goes on to define, for the purposes of the Act, a legal activity as either a reserved legal activity or as the provision of legal advice, assistance or representation in connection with the application of the law or with any form of resolution of legal disputes. Legal activity does not include acting as a mediator or arbitrator.

Only an authorised person or an exempt person can carry out a reserved legal activity (s. 14).  It is a crime to carry out a reserved activity otherwise, though it is a defence that the person “did not know, and could not reasonably have been expected to know” that they were committing an offence. It is also an offence to pretend to be authorised (s. 17). An offender can be sentenced on summary conviction to up to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of up to £5,000.  If convicted on indictment in the Crown Court, an offender can be sentenced to up to two years imprisonment and an unlimited fine. An unauthorised person who purports to exercise a right of audience commits a contempt of court can also be punished.

These provisions came into force on 1st January 2010.


Last modified: 8th April 2021