Peyto Law

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Planning Law Solicitors

The Importance of Timely Legal Advice

April 20th, 2012 by Louise Humphreys

Posted In: General

We often have prospective clients approach us for advice after commencing legal proceedings or where they have received decisions adverse to them and they wish to challenge those decisions further, such as planning and enforcement appeals.

Invariably they have not obtained any legal advice either before commencing proceedings or as part of the decision-making process which leads them to the current position.

Inevitably they are disappointed when we have to give them bad news, for example, that certain lines of argument cannot be pursued because they did not form the basis of their case in the first place or their prospects of success would have been bolstered considerably by the use of expert evidence.

Predictably comments such as "if only I had sought legal advice earlier" are all too common.

Although some may view it as self-serving, it is my firm belief that obtaining legal advice at the outset from specialists in whatever field the case concerns really is in the client's best interests.

Would you give yourself root canal treatment? No? Yet many people are seemingly happy to take a "do it yourself" approach when it comes to legal matters.

Of course there are those who say that the costs of taking legal advice are too high. I would counter that by saying that the costs of not taking legal advice can be far higher and I don't just mean in monetary terms.

Take for example a recent case upon which I advised. Mr X built extensions to his property following the grant of planning permission. The Council alleged that the extensions were not in compliance with the approved plans and served an enforcement notice requiring their demolition. Mr X lodged an appeal. The Inspector dismissed the appeal and upheld the notice. Mr X wanted advice as to whether he could appeal the decision under s289 Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Regrettably for him, and without going into detail, the answer was no. He is therefore faced with a valid notice requiring the demolition of the extensions which he has built. For him the costs of not taking legal advice not only involved the build costs which he faced losing and with more to be incurred in demolishing the extensions but also the cost in terms of the impact on him and his family. Now I am not claiming that the involvement of a planning lawyer would inevitably have changed the outcome, but a planning lawyer would undoubtedly have had something to say about the grounds of appeal and overall approach adopted.

Taking timely advice allows you to understand your legal position thereby ensuring that you can minimise your exposure to potential legal risks and unnecessary costs.