Will-writing: LSB steps up investigation into whether it should be regulated

The Insolvency Service last week presented petitions to wind up three will-writing businesses.

The news comes as the Legal Services Board (LSB) issues a call for evidence as part of its statutory investigation into whether to make will-writing, the entire probate process and estate administration reserved legal activities.

The petitions to wind up Minster Legal Services (UK) Limited and Legal Assistance Limited – both based in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire – and Legal Assistance 4 U Limited trading from Newark, Nottinghamshire, were presented following an investigation carried out by Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985.

The Official Receiver has been appointed provisional liquidator of all three companies. The role of the provisional liquidator is to protect assets in the possession or under the control of the company pending the determination of the petition.

The provisional liquidator also has the power to investigate the affairs of the company insofar as it is necessary to protect the assets including any third party or trust monies or assets in the possession of or under the control of the company.

The petitions will be heard in the High Court on 20 October 2011.

The Insolvency Service said the three businesses operated nationwide, using telesales staff to cold-call members of the public in the hope of persuading potential customers to accept a home visit from a self-employed ‘legal consultant’, who would then promote the companies’ products.

The LSB’s investigation follows its that will-writing become a regulated activity. The call for evidence – which closes on 4 November – is to help the LSB determine whether it should recommend the extension of the list of reserved activities to the Lord Chancellor and, if so, what kind of regulatory protections need to be put into place.

It says the panel’s report “indicates that quality problems are common to all providers, including solicitors who are already regulated. Granting a monopoly to solicitors is unlikely to be the answer”.

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