Most of us understand the basics of UK law. We know there are crimes, like murder or theft, which are punishable if the prosecution is agreed upon. We know we have rights that are protected by the law, in areas including privacy, employment, and freedom of speech.
We know that the court system is there to make decisions on these things, that juries make verdicts, and that lawyers argue on each side of the case.
But often it is not until we find ourselves facing legal issues, or in need of advice, that we consider where we can find trusted information about our legal rights.
Who needs legal advice?
There is a host of situations and circumstances that might lead you to need legal advice. Perhaps you are filing a divorce and want to know what rights you have to child maintenance payments, or maybe your employer has cut your pay without giving a proper reason.
Whatever question you need answering, there is a wealth of legal information out there to ensure you stay on the right side of the law.
Here is a rundown of the common areas people seek legal advice in.
If you are arrested, then you should seek legal advice as quickly as possible. Being held in custody can be a scary experience, but no matter who you are or the circumstances of your arrest, you have a right to legal advice.
You are entitled to access this advice before you are questioned by police, and will be allowed to contact a solicitor while in custody. To find a local law firm, try searching through an online database like lawfirms.co.uk, which allows you to enter location and service information.
Facing issues at work is not uncommon. Problems can range from interpersonal to financial, and often it is difficult to know where to start finding answers to your questions. Before you start filing for a second mortgage to pay for legal advice, consider taking advantage of the huge variety of free online resources. Your employer will often have information about pay, holiday, and reporting issues on its website, while sites like LegalQuery allow you to ask legal questions, for free, with instant answers by legal experts.
Family law can be one of the hardest areas to navigate when things go wrong. Cases that fall into this category are often complicated by emotional stress and the need to protect children from undue suffering.
Regulated lawyers who can help you with a family problem are usually Chartered Legal Executives, CILEx Practitioners, or Solicitors, and are normally associated with a local law firm. Once you have found a firm that meets your requirements, find the section on their website which covers family law, and contact them directly.
Immigration law in the UK is complex and far-reaching, and at times may feel impossible to understand. It is easy to get blindsided by new policies and regulations relating to living in the UK as a foreign national, and the consequences of misunderstanding can be devastating.
The UK Citizens Advice service has extensive resources about immigration law and can put you in touch with local experts should you need further assistance.
If you are due in court then the chances are you have already sought legal advice about your case. But there are other reasons you might find yourself needing help understanding the UK court system too. Every year thousands of civilians are called upon for jury service - a mandatory responsibility for all UK citizens.
If you find yourself needing more information about how a court works, then check out a website like legalcases.co.uk, which provides approachable articles about iconic legal cases. You might also want to check out the Supreme Court’s guide to courtroom rules.
Few issues have the potential to create stress like being in debt. What started as a few unpaid bills can quickly snowball into accumulating debt, threats of legal action from creditors, and impending court cases. Debt is nothing to be ashamed of, and you don’t have to suffer in silence.
If you find yourself in severe money trouble, then contact a financial expert at the Money Advice Service. They will be able to provide free independent financial advice, as well as services like budgeting and calculations.