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New research has found that vulnerable people who resort to online advice are often being mis-informed. The advice they receive sometimes reflects anecdotal information, or worse, personal bias, or anti-social prejudices. Some pearls of wisdom included ‘ignore the advice of your solicitor’ and ‘don’t comply with court orders’!

So-called ‘advisers’ often suggested that courts were ‘institutionally unfair’ or ‘gender-biased’ or ‘incompetent’. They also promoted their services above those of qualified solicitors. All of this is perhaps just a by-product of reduced access to legal aid, but ironically the courts are becoming busier as a result!

Most legal advice which does not have a core element of objectivity is useless. Also failure to comply with court orders is never a sensible strategy, as it almost invariably leads to censure of some sort, costs orders and even having your application struck out.

The study concludes that whilst online advice is a convenient and often cheap way of navigating the court process, there does need to be ‘a move to a more regulated environment so as to protect with increased transparency to make sure that people know the information they are accessing and the legal qualifications of those advising them.’

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