The Law Society has published a guide for solicitors on how to deal with clients who have physical or mental health problems.
Meeting the needs of vulnerable clients seeks to help identify vulnerable clients early and communicate with them more effectively. It lists certain “vulnerability indicators” including age, learning disabilities, difficulty understanding complex information, and heavy reliance on others. There is advice on how to deal with third parties such as advocates and carers.
While it may be relatively simple to identify “mobility problems, physical or sensory disabilities or more severe impairment of mental capacity”, the guide suggests, solicitors should not feel nervous about asking for more information.
The guidance follows research by the Law Society last year which found that 59 per cent of law firms had provided some sort of legal services to vulnerable people in the previous 12 months. Some solicitors claimed that as many as one in five – 21 per cent – of their clients in the preceding year could be described as “vulnerable”.
Law Society president Andrew Caplen said that such people can often “face particular obstacles in accessing justice, including getting help from a solicitor”.
“We have produced this important guidance to support our members and to help their clients to get the legal advice and tailored support that they need.”
Last month, family law organisation Resolution called for more support for vulnerable witnesses after a decision by the Court of Appeal involving sexual abuse of a child.
To read the guidance in full, click here.
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