Mortgage 2000 (M2000) has rebutted claims by solicitors that mortgage intermediaries that prepare simple legal documents such as wills and financial agreements could be liable to negligence claims for any errors or disagreements clients may later raise, writes Paul Robertson.
Paul Willans, financial planning manager at Bells Potter Solicitors, raised concerns about advisers being encouraged to complete common documents such as wills and pre-nuptial agreements after the launch of M2000’s ‘e-legal’ service last month.
Willans said even though any adviser is perfectly entitled to do such work for clients, there are cases that place the financial liability for mistakes in the document on the adviser because they have a ‘duty of care’ to ensure documents are properly executed. ‘I am not saying you should not do the business because you are not a solicitor ‘ there are no restrictions on financial advisers. If you provide the same services as a solicitor, you will be judged by the same standards as a solicitor, yet most PI insurers would not extend cover to this, so advisers will be liable to any payments.’
Simon Nixon, chief executive of M2000, pointed out that the agreements were drawn up by its own solicitors, Storrar Cowdery.
‘Effectively the service is execution only,’ he said. ‘Intermediaries are not giving advice, or discussing a client’s will. The customer must read the terms and conditions and sign them agreeing liability is totally on themselves. Most wills for the average person are simple, and this service is only for simple arrangements.
l Additional reporting by Julie Henderson, editor, IFAonline.