Kings Court Trust Ltd Info
Kings Court Trust Ltd Probate Services based in Bristol: Review
With a name like "Kings Court" and the fact this firm handles legal matters such as probate, you'd be forgiven for jumping to the conclusion that KCT are a chambers packed with grey-wigged barristers. But they're not. They're what's called an Alternative Business Structure (ABS). Simply put, an ABS is a firm handling legal matters that has non-solicitors owning, running, or working within the company.
ABSs were introduced by the Legal Services Act 2007 but didn't hit the UK legal services market until about 2012. The applications are still mostly overseen by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) but the press have not been kind to the concept. They dubbed it "Tesco Law" in reference to the fact that Tesco could now start up a law firm to go along with their insurance, credit card, and mobile phone offerings. This has resulted in low consumer confidence, with one poll suggesting only 1% of people would choose to use an ABS over a regular high street solicitor.
Normally, we're pretty reserved when it comes to advice. But on this occasion I have no problem stating that any such misgivings are totally unfounded.
We're not the only ones that think so either. The Guardian newspaper lists KTC as one of their Probate Best Buys, stating:
Kings Court Trust was the third alternative business structure licensed by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), with the SRA having licensed a total of 16. KCT's Chief Executive, Tom Curran, said at the time:
The firm's website isn't packed with a huge amount of information. We had to crawl the web to find all this out about them (you're welcome). The general site layout seems to be various snippets about why you should choose to use their services with plenty of references to their phone number. We know that people who are suddenly hit with death, wills, probate, and so on like to search for information. Usually late at night on their tablet. However, to be honest, you can read PDFs till the cows come home and still not know how your particular case might go or what is needed. It's never going to be easy to pick up the phone and start that process.
The website has plenty of references to the fixed pricing aspect mentioned earlier. But they also highlight their online case tracking service - Insight. This apparently lets you check the progress of your case at any time through a password protected admin area. We obviously haven't been able to test it out though. Another paragraph that caught our eye, was:
Although it doesn't go into detail about what 'reward' advisers get and what kind of things constitute going 'above and beyond' - I think the idea alone carries considerable weight in regards to their setup and internal management.
That's not to say we think they're perfect. There are a few things we wouldn't mind seeing changed. For example, most law firms include a brief overview of key staff. Kings Court Trust display names and photos, but no other information beyond that. In these days of Facebook and LinkedIn, an increasing number of people enjoy and feel more confident being able to know a little about the people or company they're going to call before doing so. We also would like to see some case examples. Whilst there is a Customer's Stories section, it is mostly just clients praising the firm rather than providing examples of difficult cases and how they were resolved. Again, case examples are something law firms use on their website to great effect.
Of course, the fact both these things are commonly provided by law firms might be the very reason they are not provided on the KCT website. As their Chief Executive said:
Around the web we see that the firm is generally reviewed well. Any complaints that do exist are usually when a client feels that the case had gone on for longer than they thought it should. If you do go reading reviews in places such as TrustPilot or Google, we would recommend only focusing on reviews written in the past couple of years. Obviously there would have been a lot of changes soon after becoming an ABS, not least because capital investors Smedvig plunged £4million into the firm just a few years back. That will undoubtedly have caused quite a bit of change in the setup, staffing levels, and settling-in afterward.
A quick note on navigation: the website we link to is www.kctrust.co.uk, and whilst there is some content on www.kctrust.com it doesn't appear to have anything to do with the actual firm we're talking about. Also even though the web address www.kingscourttrust.co.uk currently redirects to the main one, www.kingscourttrust.com does not. Therefore it is probably best to bookmark the correct site once you're on it just in case.
General Notes: Usually if Legal Aid is possible we've mentioned it above, but you can always ask. We haven't looked in depth at their recruitment program so are unaware of any job vacancies available. For a career with Kings Court Trust Ltd it's best to visit the website (www.kctrust.co.uk), check opening hours, and find the correct phone/email contact details. Simply emailing a CV to reception looks lazy. Each law firm's Law Society and/or SRA number should be on their site, usually at the bottom of each page.
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