By: 28 November 2013

His Honour Judge Gosnell has been accused of being "out of touch" with the realities of today's legal services and how the public expects them to be delivered.


Simon Gibson, managing partner at SGI Legal, has made the accusation after the judge found that Raleys solicitors was in breach of duty after it misjudged a compensation case.


His Honour Judge Gosnell said that the breach was partly down to the firm having never had a face-to-face meeting with its client, Andrew Proctor, when giving his verdict at Leeds County Court. This, he said, meant that Proctor's vibration white finger injury and its effect on his everyday life was not assessed properly.


"The Judge has directed that it is 'not too much to ask' that the solicitors directly consult with the claimant at relevant stages of his case and seems broadly critical of business process where there is little personal contact with the client," said Gibson.


"It is clear that the judge is unimpressed with legal services provided through automation and standardisation.


"The judgment is indicative that the judge is wholly out of touch not only with the realities of the litigation process but, perhaps more importantly, the way many clients want their legal services to be provided," he said.


He went on to say that an increasing volume of clients were not only more legally savvy than a decade ago, but were also far more comfortable in carrying out transactions online.


Gibson also argued that clients demand more control and input in how their legal services are provided and did not want to have always visit law firms' offices or be " bothered by them on the phone simply to confirm that what they have already told us is correct".


"Regrettably the judgment smacks of the archaic view that “we’re lawyers, we’re different” and that the process of hand holding a client through a process is not only preferable to more modern provision of services but a requirement to avoid negligence claims," said Gibson.


He said that technology was now available that allowed law firms to provide automated processes via the internet without compromising their professional duties or creating unmanageable risk.


"There are innovative law firms with plans in train to push the boundaries in terms of the provision of cutting edge legal services and the judgment of HHJ Gosnell is unlikely to knock them too far off kilter," he added.