Don’t do professional favours for your friends. Just Don’t, OK.

Don’t do professional favours for your friends. Just Don’t, OK.

And if I may add, as a general rule, don’t accept favours either. Certainly not from the Godfather –

“Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, consider this justice a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.”
— Don Corleone, The Godfather

I mean, when he puts it like that, it’s fairly clear you’ve crossed a line I think.

I wrote this Blog link here last year. As I said then, the facts of this case follow a classic chain of events which could well be the plot of a film – although thankful no horses have been harmed.

It has the trope of – man and wife M&W ask friend F for a favour. “You are an Expert Architect, could you just have a look at a quote I’ve got from a contractor it seems too high to me”

[And I wonder, when a friend asks you “Could you just”? – Why do they put it like that?

[As if they are describing the favour they are asking as a mere triviality which it would be churlish of you to refuse and is to them not really a priority in the slightest?

[When of course, what they mean is – “This is of the utmost importance to me and you are the only person in the world who can help me but I don’t want to let you know that and I certainly don’t want to pay you”.]

And F gets involved and before you know it woohoo M&W and F are no longer friends at all and there is a court case Link here about a claim for £265,000.00.

In the 2016 case judgment the Judge found that F was fully entangled in the case and that her duty of responsibility was notwithstanding that she had not been paid a penny and concluded – “However, [nothing] should discourage the parties from seeking to settle their differences. I cannot think of a more appropriate case to which mediation is suited.”

Yeah right, fat chance of that between ex-friends.

So this year F has lost her appeal, – the 2017 case report Link here seems little more than a repetition of what the Judges told her last year. Of course, the Court fees will have increased hugely.

It all boils down to – if you are approached to assist anyone, by your best friend or by a stranger, who is asking you to help because you have skill and ability which they lack, then to the extent that you do so, whether or not any contract is written, you are responsible for acting with “reasonable skill and care”. Working for nothing does not change that.

Except to the extent that it might make you loathe your former friends even more.

Of course, it is in the nature of non-psychopathic humans, to wish to help their friends.

And don’t think its only Architects who need to be on their guard.

And not only, don’t do favours. Also, Don’t assume in professional life that you can trust your friends and relax your standards.

Here is a link to a case in which a Solicitor has been ordered to pay £7,500.00 plus costs of £32,469.86. Because, he made a mistake in “lowering his guard” when acting in a new matter for a family he had acted before on several previous occasions. So, because he trusted them, he failed to be as thorough as his professional rules require, indeed he himself described his work as sloppy.

A case where no fraud actually took place. Simply where, if it had, the Solicitor’s involvement would not have revealed it or stopped it. If I may compare it to the cliché, a case where the Solicitor left the stable door unbolted. The fact that the horse stayed in the stable, is deemed to be neither here nor there.

As a general rule of thumb, if in doubt, perhaps we should always ask ourselves – what would Ted Hastings* do? – Yes, “Follow the Law to the Letter. To the Letter, Mind.

“Now we’re sucking on diesel. OK, Stand Down.”

And, as always, you can contact me or Louise here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email notary@atkinsonnotary.com or via the website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com

*He’s in Line Of Duty. He’s the Good Guy. So far.

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