LEGAL ADVICE 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 to 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 British Citizenship now that they have settled status for a year
→ You reply, based on your understanding of the law, that they can.
→ This would be defined as giving legal advice.
Someone providing legal support (instead of legal advice) in this situation could explain that the requirements for citizenship applications are different to those for settled status applications, and suggest that they seek legal advice (see links at the end of the page)
→ Someone says they will not apply for Settled Status
→ You reply, based on your understanding of the law, that they must do so because otherwise they will become unlawfully resident
→ This could be defined as giving legal advice
The reason this is legal advice is because there can always be something in people’s personal circumstances that you don’t know about. Instead, someone giving legal information in this situation would explain that it is up to the individual but point them at some of the resources listed at the end of this page.
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 EU Settlement Scheme context could be explaining 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, or point people to any of the following:
Our page Applying for Settled Status is good summary of the process, including what documents you will need to successfully apply
The website from our sister charity Settled, which specialises in outreach to EU citizens at risk, is also very helpful, as Settled Status is explained in a simple manner. They currently have information in 7 languages and growing
Here for Good is a charity set up specifically to help you in applying for Settled Status.
You can conveniently call them if you have a questions or seeking free immigration legal advice:
Mondays, 0930 - 1130
Wednesdays, 1130 - 1330
Fridays, 1330 - 1530
020 7014 2155 (standard phone charges apply)
The helpline is run with Bindmans LLP
We also recommend the London Mayor information hub for EU citizens, which is available in 23 different languages: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/eu-londoners-hub
We have also partnered with the European Commission in the UK and Here for Good to provide simple information about your rights as an EU citizen living in the UK: https://www.eurights.uk/what-you-need-to-know
Settled Status information sessions:
Check this website to find out about information events about settled status near you: http://www.eurights.uk/events