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On workplace.stackexchange.com, a question was asked where someone had worked for a company, the company apparently asked him to sign a contract that he would do additional work for them for free, which he obviously didn't sign, and he says their "lawyer" (in quotes) told him that the contract was valid without him signing it since it was handed to him.

Question 1: What would be the consequences of falsely claiming that you are a lawyer, and telling an opponent something blatantly false about their legal position?

Question 2: What would be the consequences of truthfully claiming that you are a lawyer, and telling an opponent something blatantly false about their legal position?

  • In an adversarial legal system, one should believe nothing that the opponent's lawyer says about the law. Whether the company's lawyer is or is not a real lawyer, he has no obligation to consider the employee's best interests, and has every obligation to the company. Also, a lawyer could tell you something he sincerely believes to be true, but be wrong for any of a number of reasons. That's why you need to understand the law yourself and/or hire your own lawyer. – phoog May 12 '16 at 6:57
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A consequence of falsely claiming to be a solicitor is that they may be prosecuted. There is a set of "reserved legal activities" under the Legal Services Act of 2007 which require a person to be authorized to engage in such an activity, but rendering stupid opinions about how the law works isn't one. Let us suppose that there is some common understanding in the UK of what it means to be a "lawyer" such as "has studied a bit of law", and person A giving the advice is actually a Russian plumber who have absolutely no idea about UK law. In which case B might try pursuing a legal remedy on the grounds that he was tricked into working for free by a person who fraudulently claimed to have material knowledge which he did not have.

Given general understandings of fraud, it could seem that the company attempted to use deception to gain something of value (work) or to deprive the person of a right (liberty). The Fraud Act of 2006 under provision 11 Obtaining services dishonestly indicates that one can spend up to a year in the clink for doing this.

This scenario is bizarre enough that I wonder whether we're missing some details. For example, perhaps B is already an employee of the company, he has a contract, and it stipulates that they can require him to in some form "work for free" as long as they give him notice. (Obviously this can't override regulatory law, but a company can make a non-hourly salaried employee do all sorts of stuff above and beyond the regular 9-to-5). Handing him this paper may constitute "giving notice": the signature would be acknowledgement that he had gotten notice.

  • It's basically a question on workplace.stackexchange turned into a question here. The questioner there said that a "lawyer" (with quotation marks) for the previous employer contacted him. – gnasher729 May 10 '16 at 8:15

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