Friday, June 10, 2005

Why Bother?

As a criminal solicitor I frequently get calls from the Police Station informing me that Clients are in custody. Some of these Clients will be 'own' Clients so they are either known to my colleagues or me, or they are 'duty' clients meaning they have been forwarded to me by the Duty Solicitor Scheme and I have probably never dealt with them before.

Many Clients want legal advice when they are detained at the Police Station. Some have never been arrested before, some are old hands. Some speak to a Solicitor and then want the Solicitor to attend at the Police Station. Then there are those people who speak to a Solicitor, say that they want them to attend at the Police Station and then change their mind.

I often ask myself why did they bother to ask for a solicitor if they did not want them to come to the Police Station? I realise that some Clients feel once they have spoken to a Solicitor that they are able to deal with the case by themselves. But if the legal advice is free and the only real cost to the Client is waiting time for the Solicitor to attend why would they refuse a Solicitor?

Over the past month I have had two Clients where this situation has arisen. In both cases I was referred the case by the Duty Solicitor Scheme, and in both cases I spoke with the Client when they were initially detained at the Police Station. Subsequently in both cases I received a further phone call saying that the Client no longer wanted a Solicitor. The first case I could understand, the Client was described by the Police to me as a traveler and he had been arrested for handling stolen goods - he had been arrested before and for the exact same scenario many times. The second case was a little more bizarre. The Client had been arrested as one of a number of Defendants for conspiracy to supply class A drugs and money laundering in a National Crime Squad operation. Why the second Client declined a Solicitor to attend at the Police Station was beyond me as that Client was clearly in danger of going to prison for a very long time. The second Client's reasoning for declining a Solicitor was even more bizarre when you consider they had already had a different firm of Solicitors attend, and then withdraw from the case.

If the advice is free why refuse it? If you were offered a plumber to fix a broken water pipe for free would you refuse their services? I wouldn't.

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