One of the region’s best known law firms has hit out at the Government over its decision not to allow the regulation of will writing, calling the decision ‘madness.’
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has rejected a recommendation from regulator body the Legal Services Board that will-writing should be regulated, a decision met with dismay by senior Fenland legal expert Brian Bowser, who warned it left the public at risk.
Mr Bowser, of law firm Bowser Ollard and Bentley said: “It is the responsibility of trusted legal firms to leave the public in no doubt at all about the ramifications of wills not fit for purpose.”
“The decision by Chris Grayling leaves the public open for exploitation by the unscrupulous, and is madness,” added Mr Bowser, whose firm has offices in both Wisbech and March.
“Having a will that is unclear or has not been properly prepared is worse than having no will at all and Mr Grayling should be fighting for consumers to have a properly drawn will.”
Mr Bowser, a respected member of the business community in the region since the 1970s, added putting will preparation in the hands of people who know what they are doing has to be the right move.
“That means having wills prepared by Solicitors and others who have had the proper training, not allowing a free for all as we have at present,” he said.
“It is a pity that Chris Grayling can find the time to get rid of the ambulance chasers who have plagued people injured in accidents, but cannot find the time to help all those who need to have a legally binding will made.
“Thanks to the Government’s decision, unregulated providers can carry on writing wholly inadequate wills, leaving consumers without any recourse when things go wrong as a result.”
In a Ministry of Justice statement, Mr Grayling said that a Legal Services Board report claiming that there is ‘consumer detriment’ in the will-writing market did not adequately demonstrate that regulating is the best solution.
He suggested the strengthening of existing regulation of authorised persons, combined with voluntary regulation schemes and codes of practice for non-authorised providers and called for better consumer education and greater use of existing consumer protections.
The Law Society, which originally lobbied for wills, to be regulated, reacted to the decision with dismay.
Desmond Hudson, Chief Executive of the Law Society said consumers have been let down by the decision.
“We provided plenty of evidence to the LSB, demonstrating that consumers are at real risk from certain unregulated will-writers who can be incompetent, untrained and uninsured,” he added.
“Until the government changes its minds on this, the only sensible choice for consumers is to have a solicitor to write your will, and to ensure a solicitor is chosen to administer the estate of your loved one,” he said.
“A solicitor is qualified and brings the comfort of an unrivalled regulatory and compensation system to put right any errors.”