Paralegals have called upon the government to allow them equal status with solicitors when working on compromise agreements in redundancy cases.
Legislation drafted in the mid-1990s to protect employees’ rights in redundancy situations provides that employees should receive independent legal advice from a qualified lawyer, trade union representative, or representative from a not-for-profit organisation. The Institute of Paralegals has called for this statutory list of approved advisers to be amended to include firms of paralegals, which were not prevalent when the legislation was drafted.
IOP chief executive James O’Connell said the institute’s members should be permitted to undertake work on compromise agreements. He said: ‘It is anachronistic to reserve compromise agreement work for solicitors, when so many paralegals are competently handling their own employment caseload.
‘Paralegals sometimes even have to take a compromise agreement to a certain stage before handing it over to a solicitor for completion, which is a duplication of effort and an extra cost for clients.’
The Institute said it was remarkable that senior paralegals have the right to apply to become judges at Employment Tribunals, but cannot advise on proceedings within them.