There are a number of solicitors who claim to be specialists in Body Corporate law. There are times when a Body Corporate has no option but to obtain a legal opinion, but you do need to be very careful about who you chose in providing the advice. There have been claims of overcharging, flawed legal advice, loss of important documents, etc and these are just the tip of the iceberg.
If you do need to use a solicitor you should ask as many questions as possible:
1. Ask your Body Corporate Manager if they have had experience with the solicitor and if they are able to provide any feedback. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of Body Corporates who have engaged solicitors and your Body Corporate Manager should be able to help you in making a decision as to who is best to use.
2. Ask the solicitor for references. If the solicitor claims to specialise in Body Corporate Law they should be able to give you contact points for previous clients so that you can get some feedback. If you want details of specific cases there is no reason why you should not ask the solictor to provide you with details of committee members at the time or the Body Corporate Manager who was involved.
3. Caretakers may be able to provide some feedback on their experiences with solicitors.
4. Speak to more than one solicitor before making a commitment.
5. Clarify as much as possible in regards to costs and terms and conditions with the solicitor prior to making a commitment.
When you do engage a solictor make sure that all committee members fully understand the costs agreement and ensure that all costs are fully authorised within the Commitee spending limit.
The term "Body Corporate Specialist" is not an official term with any specific qualification. It simply means that the solicitor concentrates on Body Corporate issues. The term does not necesarily mean that the solicitor has more expertise than any other solicitor.
It is always best to do as much homework as possible before entering into an agreement with a solicitor.
If you have already engaged a solicitor you can always consider getting a second opinion if needed and if you are not happy with the work that has been provided or the charges that have been made you should advise the solictor of this in writing and take further action if the BC sees fit.
Bear in mind that legal costs in relation to Body Corporate issues can be very costly and time consuming. It is generally best to try everything possible to resolve these issues through negotiation and mediation or through the Commissioner before getting involved in a costly legal battle.
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal and not intended in to be advice in any way. I have spent many years participating on a number of different Body Corporate Committees. I am a dealer in Vintage Movie Memorabilia specialising in original movie posters and movie art. http://www.moviemem.com/I also present a radio programme on Jazz Radio 94.1fm Monday - Friday afternoons on the Gold Coast.