LEGAL SUPPORT VS. LEGAL SUPPORT
This page explains the difference between giving legal advice (illegal) and providing legal support on the Forum for EU Citizens and in other groups on social media or elsewhere.
All members of the Forum (including the mods) must refrain from giving legal advice fellow Forum members.
This doesn’t mean we cannot talk about our experience when dealing with the Home Office or provide legal support but don’t provide legal advice.
Please note it’s illegal for anyone to provide legal advice to individuals unless they are accredited with OISC/LSC (the regulatory bodies of immigration advice).
WHAT IS LEGAL ADVICE?
→ Someone asks you if they should apply for Permanent Residence based on their circumstances
→ You reply, based on your understanding of the law, that they shouldn’t because they’d probably be refused anyway.
→ This could be defined as giving legal advice.
Someone providing legal support, not legal advice, in this situation would explain that it is up to the individual, but provide information about how to apply, and explain the process of how Permanent Residence applications are decided.
Advice from family and friends is generally not considered to be strictly legal advice, but this is because it is assumed they are not advising you on the basis of the law and are not attempting to give any formal advice, but are advising you in a personal capacity on the basis of what they think you should do as your friends.
If you attempt to give a friend advice about what they should do in their case based on your understanding of the law, this could still be defined as giving legal advice.
The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 definition includes immigration advice and services as those “provided in the course of business, whether or not done for profit. This includes occasional help offered to members of a community”.
This means that individuals, community groups and campaign groups cannot give legal advice if they are not doing so as a regulated body.
WHAT IS LEGAL INFORMATION?
Legal advice is specific, direct, and proposes a course of action.
Legal information is factual, generic, and does not address any one particular cause of action. Providing legal information in the Permanent Residence context could be explaining how how the system works. This is not providing legal advice.
WHY YOU SHOULDN'T GIVE LEGAL ADVICE IF YOU ARE NOT A QUALIFIED ADVISOR?
1) it’s against the law
2) if you are not a full-time legal professional, it is very unlikely you will have the necessary up-to-date knowledge to provide the correct advice.
Wrong advice is far worse than no advice.
PROVIDING LEGAL SUPPORT
There are many things that EU citizens can do to provide legal support without giving legal advice.
* Provide general legal information
* Contact Here for Good, a charity offering free legal advice https://www.hereforgoodlaw.org
* Contact the AIRE Centre (http://www.airecentre.org) or your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
* Suggest joining the UKCEN group on Facebook, which was created in 2016 to help EU citizens with their application for Permanent Residence. Over the last 18 months, they have helped over 1,000 EU citizens obtain PR and have a team of legal volunteers ready to help. https://www.facebook.com/groups/UKCEN/
INSTRUCTING A LAWYER
If you want to instruct a lawyer, don’t answer phishing emails or adverts to avoid sharks but find an Immigration Law Practitioner accredited by the Law Society at http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/accreditation/immigration-asylum/