Why Use Judicare
Why use Judicare rather than a foreign based law firm?
We recognise that clients have a choice when deciding which solicitor or lawyer to help them with their legal requirements overseas. But how do you decide which solicitor to instruct and what makes us different? We believe that there are a number of issues that separate us from law firms based in the various countries that we deal with.
We are UK Solicitors
We are a unique firm of solicitors. We are based in the UK and as such are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
We are also members of the Law Society which means that clients have the protection and comfort of dealing with a UK firm of Solicitors, with all the regulation that comes with it, even though their legal issue may be outside of the UK.
In some countries the Law Society in that country is more like a Trade Union rather than a true Regulatory Body and therefore making a complaint against that foreign based lawyer may not get anywhere, unlike the UK. We are aware of quite a few people who have complained about an overseas lawyer to the relevant local Law Society in that jurisdiction and haven’t even received the courtesy of an acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint from the Law Society, let alone a favourable decision.
Equally the Code of Conduct of Solicitors in the UK is not only stricter and heavily enforced than in some countries. As a UK firm of Solicitors we have to comply with strictly with a Code of Conduct.
This is probably one of the most important factors clients should consider when seeking legal advice outside of the UK. One of the key things that UK Regulated Solicitors have to have is professional indemnity insurance (PI Insurance). Professional indemnity Insurance is an insurance policy that covers the client should a solicitor make a negligent mistake. In the UK, Solicitors currently have to have a minimum of £3 million worth of cover per claim, regardless of their claims record. In some countries there is actually no legal requirement to have professional indemnity insurance. In other countries the minimum level required is significantly less than the UK. It is only recently that Spain, for example, required their lawyers to take out PI Insurance and even then it can be as low as €18,000. Therefore if a Spanish Abogado with the minimum amount of cover makes a negligent mistake they will only have insurance that covers them up to the amount of €18,000 per claim, whereas a UK Solicitor will have cover up to £3million.
In Portugal the minimum level of PI Insurance is €250,000 per claim. In Cyprus the minimum level of cover is €170k per claim. In Brazil there is no legal requirements to take out PI Insurance. Please note that the “foreign” figures mentioned are in Euros and therefore there is a bigger difference than it initially appears.
We can speak your language
Yes, we understand that many foreign lawyers who target British clients can also speak English but how good is their English? Is it just enough to communicate with you or is it good enough to explain often complicated legal situations to you in terms that you understand? Often there are words that sound the same in two different languages that mean something different. As a UK law firm our native language is English. This means that we can pick up any nuances may exist and can explain things to you without fear of misunderstanding or bad translations.
Similarly because we are UK solicitors we can explain things with reference to the UK equivalent, which can help you understand what is happening in the other country.
We understand both sets of law
Whilst it may seem obvious that whichever lawyer you instruct needs to know the law of the country that you are dealing with it may be less obvious that your legal representative also needs to understand the law of your home country and the interaction between the two sets of laws. There is an interaction between the two countries whether you like it or not and this cannot be ignored. Therefore there is a distinct advantage to having a law firm who understands both sets of laws to represent you.
There are several different ways in which having a lawyer who understands both sets of laws is an advantage;
•Buying or selling property – we understand the impact of buying a property abroad on your affairs back in the UK in terms of Taxes (Capital Gains Tax, Income Tax, Inheritance Tax) and also Inheritance.
•Wills – We understand how to make sure that making a Will in one country does not cause a problem or conflict with a Will in another country
•Litigation – we understand which jurisdiction should apply to litigation and also what the issues are with cross-border litigation and enforcement. We will not push you to go down a particular route just because that suits us.
•Probate – we understand how to explain to the authorities abroad what the situation is in the UK in order to
Most foreign lawyers cannot do this and will perhaps encourage you to do something that may be perfectly sensible in their country but may cause you a problem back home. You need a legal team that can look at the transaction as a whole. We obviously understand the laws of the various countries that we deal with but also have the advantage of understand UK law and therefore know how the two interact.
We are used to dealing with British clients
Because we specialise in providing legal services to British clients we are used to dealing with them. We know what sorts of questions they will expect to be answered. We know what they are looking for and what their priorities are. We know what worries them and how they wish to be dealt with.
Foreign lawyers may be used to dealing with British clients but may not understand what they are used to. The reports that they provide on a purchase, for example, may be extremely limited and may in fact be limited to something like “the contract is OK to sign” rather than explaining what the contract says and what the effect of it is.
British clients are used to certain service levels from their lawyers. They expect to be kept up to date with progress. In many jurisdictions a lawyer will only contact you if they need something. In the UK we are used to keeping you up to date even if that is to say that nothing is happening.
We are based in the UK
Although the majority of our clients don’t visit us during a transaction we are based in the UK and can therefore easily meet with clients if they wish or if it becomes necessary. We are also open during UK working hours, meaning that it is often easier for you to contact us. Needless to say telephone calls to us do not require what can sometimes be costly telephone bills to discuss a matter with your overseas lawyer.
We are still local
We have all the advantages set out above of being UK based solicitors but also have a good network of lawyers that we work with on the ground. We therefore know what happening in particular local areas is but can also cover the whole of each of the different countries that we deal with. Choosing us therefore means that you have the best of both worlds – a UK based firm of solicitors with a foot in the country that you need assistance with.
We cover a wide range of different countries
We don’t just deal with one country, we deal with a wide range of different countries. We often find that clients who have done something in one country may have also dome something else in another country. Because we cover a number of countries it means that you don’t have to have one foreign lawyer for one country and another foreign lawyer for the other country. This also means that, as mentioned above, we can look at your legal requirements as a whole rather than just looking at one country.
We have been doing this for a long time with a proven track record. Some of our staff have been dealing exclusively with International Legal issues for over 20 years. We have therefore probably seen your set of circumstances before and therefore know the issues involved and, most importantly, the solutions.
We are independent. We don’t act for estate agents or developers. In fact to do so would be a Conflict of Interest and would be against the SRA Code of Conduct. In many other countries it is also prohibited to act in a situation where you are not independent or there is a Conflict of Interest but this isn’t taken as seriously as it is in the UK and we often find a lawyer acting for both sides on a foreign transaction.
We don't cost any more
We have to compete not only with our competitors in the UK but also our competitors abroad. We therefore have to price ourselves accordingly. You should choose your lawyer on the service given rather than the price quoted but we are aware that people shop around for the best price.
We keep an eye on our competitors and believe that our prices are competitive. Yes, there will always be people who are cheaper, but it is important to ask whether they are providing the same services in terms of what is covered and the level of detail that is given.
Members of AIPP
We are members of the Association of International Property Professionals.
In fact our Peter Esders is on the Board of AIPP and has been for several years. The overseas property market is largely unregulated and the AIPP aims to improve standards of professionalism in that industry. We believe strongly that the overseas property market needs to improve and being involved with AIPP helps us to achieve that whilst giving something back to the industry.
As members of AIPP we have signed up to a Code of Conduct which concentrates on high levels of honesty, integrity and dignity.
We can assist with legal issues in a wide range of countries including – but not limited to - Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Poland, Barbados, Bahamas, Egypt, Morocco, Cape Verde, USA, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, Brazil and United Arab Emirates.