Hundreds of general practice solicitors have been jumping on the IVA bandwagon
over the past 12 months in an attempt to replace income streams decimated by the
drop off in conveyancing and property-related business following the economic
As a result, consumers struggling with serious debt issues are in danger of
being exposed to poor advice from non-specialist sources, warns of debt solution
But without the specialist knowledge of the intricacies of the debt industry,
many of these solicitors simply do not have the ability to guide their clients
in the right direction.
“We have seen a startling rise in the numbers of general practice solicitors
offering variations on ‘debt related services", commented Terry Balfour of
“But if you have toothache you go to a dentist, not a doctor. Or if your boiler
breaks down you call a heating engineer, not a handyman.
“Debt advice is no different. The problem needs the skills of a professional
trained specifically in that area to provide expert, undiluted advice.”
IVA.com, which is a dedicated resource for those seeking help with unmanageable
debt, has reported a substantial increase in the number of callers who are still
floundering in debt after being given unhelpful advice by their solicitors.
“Debt advice, as a specialist line of work, is relatively new compared to other
areas of financial advice and associated legal matters, but that doesn’t mean
it’s an area that can be simply bolted on to a general legal practice,” added
“The massive increase in the need for debt advice has resulted in the birth of a
dedicated industry. By concentrating solely on this subject, it’s these
professionals who are best placed to identify the right solution for the
“It’s a real cause for concern that some people are being misinformed and are
committing themselves to binding agreements that are inappropriate,.
“I’m not questioning the integrity of these solicitors,” he stressed.
“Their intentions may well be the best but unless they are fully trained to know
the precise effects of all the debt solutions currently available they simply
cannot be in a position to give the best advice.”
A few years ago IVAs were given bad name by the minority of firms that set up
shop to take advantage of the burgeoning debt industry with a “pile ‘em high,
sell ‘em cheap” approach.
“Thankfully for all concerned, the professionalism of the vast majority of
insolvency practitioners restored consumer confidence in the value of an IVA,
but this current trend is a worrying threat to the credibility of debt advice,”
“Debt solutions need to be finely tuned to the individual’s circumstances and
whilst an IVA can be the best strategy for some, it can be a disastrous choice
for others and only lead to failure.
“The message to consumers is simple – if you need help with debt, go to a
registered insolvency practitioner".
“There really is no need for them to risk their recovery for lack of the best