Recently I was asked to review an asylum seeker who I had seen 12 months previously for his personal injury claim arising out of injuries he said he received when he was in detention. He was referred by a legal aid service and I was paid accordingly.
Recently the legal aid service contacted me and asked me to see him for a review but explained that they had lost their funding and could not afford to pay me. They promised that if the case was successful my fee would then be paid.
It seemed to me that this was an interesting ethical dilemma. The central issue was that I could be seen to be writing an opinion that was favourable to the claimant because otherwise I would not be paid.
The alternative of not seeing him seemed unfair as he required a review examination opinion because of his impending court case and since I was the only person who had seen him with regard to his claim the refusal to do this review could well prejudice his case.
What would you do?
I gave it some thought and eventually came to a clear decision about how to proceed.
I saw him and prepared a further report and opinion.
How did I overcome my ethical dilemma?
It was quite simple. I told the legal aid service that I would not accept any payment from them in any circumstances and that this was to be pro bono.
I would be interested in your opinion. Have you also been in a situation where solicitors who operate on a no win no fee basis have asked you to prepare reports on the same basis?