(January 2021) In a world where so much information is available freely online, do you still need the advice of a lawyer? A simple Google search of your legal problems can provide thousands of relevant articles, and perhaps a friend has shared information on social media that seems like the answer you are looking for. However, we would always recommend seeking proper legal advice – it could even save you thousands in the long run.
In this article we look at an example of ‘internet legal advice gone wrong’ and explain why it is in your best interests to seek the advice of a qualified lawyer.
In a recent case, a hairdresser relied on the Magna Carta – an 800-year-old agreement between a King and disgruntled barons – to keep trading throughout lockdown measures. The salon owner racked up £27,000 in coronavirus fines and was forced to close by the council.
The hairdresser attempted to keep her salon open during national lockdown rules by quoting the Magna Carta, posting a series of videos on Instagram explaining her reasoning. She argued with council officials claiming that she did not ‘consent’ to being fined citing ‘common law’.
The hairdresser posted a notice on the salon door quoting Clause 61 (general defence of liberty) from the Magna Carta. Ahead of the latest national lockdown, some other business owners having seen the hairdresser’s actions, have done the same. However, Clause 61 is not still in force and cannot be relied upon as a defence to breaching lockdown measures, putting these businesses at risk of significant fines.
This case demonstrates the danger of relying on legal information shared on social media.
Why you should get legal advice
We would always recommend seeking the advice of an experienced, professional solicitor on matters that affect you. It is the role of your solicitor to protect your rights and to help you understand the law and legal processes. Many people worry that speaking to a solicitor will make them ‘look guilty’ or put them in a weaker position. However, getting legal advice is essential, and there is no inference of guilt simply because you have spoken to a lawyer.
Furthermore, a lawyer can help you review your business activities to identify which ones can continue during lockdown and how these might need to be changed to comply with lockdown measures. The case of the hairdresser and Magna Carta is a good example of how although legal information is available, you still require the skill and understanding of a lawyer to apply the relevant law to your specific situation.