The (legal) eagle has landed

By Chris Irons

With their solicitor on speed dial and ready to call upon their legal foot soldiers at a moment’s notice, the Lawyer Upperer sees any strata issue as a legal battlefield, not always realising that strata law is often ambiguous and that there are other ways to resolve issues.

Catch cry: well, we guess it just has to be ‘You’ll be hearing from my lawyers’. Or may ‘See you in court!’

Red Flags: you have a Lawyer-Upperer on your hands if you see, hear or encounter things such as:

  • A same-day email from a lawyer, with or without a red exclamation mark attached to it; or
  • A comment such as ’I’ll talk to a barrister mate of mine’  

The Good: Hey, don’t get us wrong. There are several times in a strata situation where legal representation is not only useful, but also essential. Things such as contractual disputes or strata issues involving complex, or not-often-utilised legislative provisions, would be ideal in which to get Lawyered-Up – and resolve a dilemma.

The Bad: The Flipside of ‘The Good’ above is that there are plenty – we think, the majority – of instances where legal intervention into a strata issue is not the best first option (or indeed, the best option at all). The Lawyer-Upperer risks inflaming and exacerbating a situation out of all proportion by calling in their solicitor at a moment’s notice. Where the body corporate is a party to such proceedings, remember that all owners end up paying, via their levies, for their legal defense.

Making the Lawyer-Upperer Work For the Scheme: having a legal process or legal advice to hand can add rigour and substance to decision-making in strata, so we think it’s a case of not being scared of the Lawyer-Upperer’s threats or demands. Rather, it is about engaging with them objectively and rationally and looking for ways to get them involved in the areas which are causing them to be triggered this way.

What Can We Do When It Becomes a Problem? Apart from making sure you are appropriately legally-represented, the other thing you can do when the Lawyer-Upperer becomes problematic is make sure your own house is in order, regardless of whether you are the committee or an individual. If the lawyers are getting called in all the time, that might suggest something has gone amiss along the way and which needs to be addressed. Or it might be a case of a different approach or tone in communication being needed.

Fun Fact: the Lawyer-Upperer can easily morph into, or be partners with, the Bush Lawyer. Why pay for a real lawyer when you get a Bush Lawyer cheaper?

Think You May Be a Lawyer Upperer? You’re not necessarily doing anything wrong, but are you spending far more money (and time) on things than perhaps you need to? Applying a hip pocket evaluation to your strata issues might be a good thing to do in the midst of your legal concerns.

Can Strata Solve Assist? Sure can! Drop us a line to see how we can assist with this and related strata issues.

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