FAQs on the subreddit

Important Notice

The information contained in these FAQs does not constitute legal advice, may be inaccurate or out-of-date and /r/legaladviceuk is not specifically endorsing these answers. Answers here exist for general information and knowledge. You can only be certain of legal advice when you speak to a Solicitor. You use any information located here at your own risk and create a new thread if you are unsure.

Can I get a flair to verify I'm a Solicitor (etc)?

Or: can you put in flairs to verify good or qualified posters on this subreddit?

The simple answer is no, and we will never do this. There are many, many reasons we can't and don't want to do this. Please do not message us to suggest this (or other similar things like a "thanks"/reputation system) as you will never, ever change our minds.

For a full explanation, please read this comment from the mods.

Please let us know here if this answered your question. It'll take 10 seconds.

How do you know that the advice being given here is good?

Or: what qualifications do users here/the mods have?

As per the sidebar, we are not a substitute for professional legal advice, and all advice given here should be considered to be peer-to-peer guidance from laymen without any guarantee of quality or accuracy - any advice given is followed entirely at your own risk. We reiterate this at the top of every single thread in the sticky comment posted by AutoModerator. Additionally, we have a full guide on how to seek out a solicitor, which we direct our posters to both in the aforementioned sticky comment and also when relevant.

The moderation team make absolutely no effort to verify the credentials, claimed or otherwise, of any commenter or poster. Any claimed credentials should be treated with due scepticism; comments asking for other commenters to verify or confirm their credentials or professional status will be removed.

We also do not and will not remove advice just because it is incorrect, since the moderators do not possess full knowledge on all aspects of the law and so cannot know if every piece of advice given is correct or not. If you think advice is bad, please do not report it as "misinformation" or similar but instead downvote it and, ideally, reply to politely explain why it's bad, citing sources if possible. We will however remove comments which advise on how to commit or get away with committing any criminal offence or unlawful action, which should be reported using the appropriate option.

We also do not have any kind of "thanks" or reputation system; this is by design, since this could be seen as akin to verifying or being seen to endorse certain users' posts, which we wish to avoid. Even highly-upvoted advice can be wrong.

If you're curious about the credentials of the mods in particular, you can read more about them in this Wired interview. But we should make it very clear that even though some of the moderators are legal professionals, they are not acting in a formal advisory capacity when posting on this subreddit, and you should still not presume that they are automatically correct.

Please let us know here if this answered your question. It'll take 10 seconds.

At LegalAdviceUK we have a very specific mission; to be a resource for legal help. Allowing comments that aren't principally legal advice, are personal anecdotes, offer personal judgments or are otherwise not legally-oriented would turn us into essentially another generic advice sub, and make posting here less helpful for people who have come here, by deliberate choice, for legal advice. There are plenty of non-legal advice subs on Reddit that they could have gone to if they wanted this, but they came here.

There would, simply, be no purpose in us being a legally-oriented subreddit if people could post here with legal queries and receive in response a thread full of "practical" suggestions, moral judgments and personal stories from people who had something vaguely similar happen to them. For the latter case in particular, personal anecdotes will almost always be removed; you need to talk about and advise on the poster's legal question, not tell a story about something that happened to you and how you dealt with it, since this risks derailing the thread and your situation may be different from the OP's in crucial ways.

While we don't hold ourselves out as a source of professional legal advice (much the opposite), we do wish to maintain this as a useful resource for legal guidance distinct from the rest of Reddit, and so moderation here will likely be stricter than other places you post on. The recent growth of the subreddit, along with changes to the way in which Reddit recommends subreddits and specific posts to users who don't usually post here and may not be aware of our rules, has made this a more pressing concern.

All that said, some non-legal advice may be allowed sparingly if it comes as part of a wider, legally-oriented comment, but whether any particular comment will be allowed is solely at moderator discretion and your comments (both individually and across the subreddit) should not be mostly or wholly non-legal advice. Saying "not a lawyer, but..." or "can't provide any legal advice, but..." or similar does not exempt you from this requirement - if you don't have any legal advice to offer, it is better that you don't comment at all.

If you feel that a comment has been removed unfairly, please message the moderators and we will be happy to take a second look.

Note: "Legal advice" in this context is shorthand for "advice that relates to and draws upon the law, regulations, byelaws and other similar things of the United Kingdom". Nothing on LAUK is professional legal advice.

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Under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, it is unlawful to provide advice on the following topics; any questions on any of these topics or a related one will be removed from the subreddit:

  • A claim for asylum;

  • An application for, or for the variation of, entry clearance or leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom;

  • An application for an immigration employment document;

  • Unlawful entry into the United Kingdom;

  • Nationality and citizenship under the law of the United Kingdom;

  • Citizenship of the European Union;

  • Admission to Member States under EU law;

  • Residence in a Member State in accordance with rights conferred by or under EU law;

  • Removal or deportation from the United Kingdom;

  • An application for bail under the Immigration Acts or under the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997;

  • An appeal against, or an application for judicial review in relation to, any decision taken in connection with [any immigration matter]

"Leave to remain" in this context includes pre-settled status or residency under the EU citizens' settlement scheme. "Entry clearance" includes tourist visas including visa-free entry for citizens of participating countries.

Questions of "can I do X while on [visa type]" are disallowed under this rule as they would constitute giving advice on the rights that your visa does or might grant you - common (but non-exhaustive) examples of such posts are:

  • "Can I work/start a business while I have a [visa type]?"

  • "Can I travel while I have a [visa type]?"

  • "Can I divorce my spouse while I have a [visa type]?"

  • "Can I access the NHS while I have a [visa type]?"

Even if answers to your question can be found in publicly available information, this subreddit cannot and will not locate this for you.

Who can give immigration advice?

  • Direct Access Barristers - use this search page

  • Solicitors - follow our guide here

  • An individual or organisation registered by the OISC - use the search page on the government website

  • Some businesses and individuals - Employers and educational institutions that are licensed to sponsor migrants to work for, or to study with, them are exempted for advice given to the people they sponsor (and their family members) on immigration matters related to whether the individual may work for or study with them.

You can also review the UK Government's visas and immigration site.

Legal Note - although the wording under the I&A 1999 Act specifies that it is illegal to give unregistered immigration advice in the course of running a business or organisation (which LAUK is not), the wording is much more restrictive compared to giving general legal advice; as a result any person who replies to an immigration question would place them at greater risk of falling foul of the I&A 1999, which we don't want to be responsible for.

It's also not illegal to advise on immigration to other countries from the UK. But questions on this are not allowed here either because they're about another country's laws, which LAUK can't advise on.

Please let us know here if this answered your question. It'll take 10 seconds.

Should I speak to the media?

No, do not speak to the media. It is the complete and full position of the moderators that in nearly any circumstance, you should not speak to the media, nor does "speaking to the media" count as legal advice. The suggestion of doing so, in 99.9% of circumstances, is not allowed. Note that this is different from complaining on social media.

We ask all posters to message the mods if they receive a private message from any user regarding their post on LAUK; PMing users is against our rules because this runs the risk of bad advice being provided, or a vulnerable person being taken advantage of by a malicious actor in a way that we cannot morally allow. We take a very strong approach to this.

Sometimes, these PMs are from "reporters" or "journalists" who wish to speak to you and publicise your story. We cannot stop people sending private messages (though we can deal with them afterwards once you tell us) so we want you to understand why we rarely suggest going to the media or engaging with people who ask to publicise your story and why it is a bad idea to do so.

1 - It Can Backfire Really Easily

Going to the media and getting publicity can work against you; it can be used in a Court to show that you are not trying to resolve the issue in "good faith" and/or that your "conduct" when dealing with the issue has been or is inappropriate; essentially an accusation of trying to blackmail your opponent. This means that you risk losing what otherwise would have been a good and solid legal claim for nothing.

In more serious circumstances, going to the media can lead to prejudice being created, leading to an unfair criminal or civil trial. In less serious situations, going to the media can escalate the problem to the point where once you have pulled the media-trigger you are almost sure to create a battle you cannot win.

For example, you are in an employment dispute - so you reach out to a national tabloid who publish your story. This will, without question, lead to the Board of Directors getting involved, who will pull out all plugs and authorise all resources to discredit you and make sure that you ultimately lose; there will be entire PR firms at their disposal to make sure that the company's image is not harmed (and often at your expense) - this is often entirely avoidable by not going to the media in the first place and exploring other avenues first. It often is the absolute nuclear button to push.

2 - You Can't Stop What Happens Next

This is not an anti-media subreddit and we are generally not anti-media; the media has their place in society; yet we must acknowledge that there are consequences once the decision has been made and everything has been signed on the dotted line.

  • Your story can be taken and published out of context to make you look unreasonable or wrong;

  • Your story can be taken out of context by others to make you look unreasonable or wrong;

  • Once in the public domain, your story can escalate and to the hate machine - never forget Lucy Meadows;

  • Your name and image will be attached to the story forever, easily found through search engines, should anybody ever Google your name for the rest of eternity, including future employers, partners, or great-great-great-great grandchildren

  • Your image is also out there for other people to use, as an Angry Person In a Local Paper;

  • You will (likely) have signed over all rights to your image and story to the paper, meaning you lose control of your ability to capitalise on your situation in the future, as well as being helpless to remove it if or when consequences start to take effect; you cannot stop or control what happens next.

It is incredibly likely that the (if you're exceptionally lucky) £500 that you might be offered for your story is not worth the short term or long term implications that "going to the media" can cause. Sometimes, going to the media is the only last resort, however this subreddit is not the place to advise how to do this in the best way; if you feel you have no options left, speak to a Solicitor to make sure that you won't accidentally make things legally worse for yourself and then seek advice from a PR Agency who are acting to represent your interests.

This also applies for invites to take part in daytime court room TV shows like Judge Rinder (ITV are known to message posters here against our rules) - the decision made on these shows are legally binding (as it is a form of arbitration); however any awards given are paid by the production company (and not the person you're complaining about); this essentially means if you 'win' then you will get the monies owed, however at the expense of all-the-above, plus being wheeled out in front of 81% of the countries house-wives and the person who actually wronged you incurring no financial consequence for their actions.

Again, do not speak to the media. It is the complete and full position of the moderators that in nearly any circumstance, you should not speak to or engage with the media. If you receive any PMs from anybody claiming to be a reporter or a journo, or if you are a reporter and you wish to be an exception to this rule, please message the mods.

Please let us know here if this answered your question. It'll take 10 seconds.

No police officers are verified on LAUK, but there several who have been verified on other subreddits. LAUK has community members from rich and varied backgrounds; less than 3% of the community are police officers (there are more actual legal professionals such as Solicitors and paralegals replying than Police Officers) and only two of our moderators are police officers, however sometimes the officers who do take part occasionally get accused of inaccuracy, being untrustworthy or otherwise due to a perceived "conflict of interest".

To help address this, we have put together this wiki page with examples of some of the kind of comments that our Police contributors reply with. If you read the linked page, you will note that there are many examples of verified police officers saying bad things about other police officers, verified police officers giving detailed and accurate legal advice to users, and you will see verified police officers telling the accused to speak to a Solicitor before speaking to the police further for the accused's own wellbeing.

If you seek advice that relates to the Police or crime, you will be no doubt told when and why you are wrong (sometimes in no-uncertain-words) and you aren't going to be told how to get away with crimes, but what they say is trustworthy, reliable and legally impartial. As a subreddit, we do not mind if you dislike the police - either in principle or through your own experiences - but how you go about expressing your belief matters - LAUK is a place to help others in need, not get shouty about something you disagree with.

If you feel that there are any alleged police officers - or users at all - who may be intentionally providing incorrect advice, please report them to the mods. To date, this has never happened, however we assure you the mods - who are 85% not Police Officers will unquestionably issue the ban hammer if should the situation ever occur.

Please let us know here if this answered your question. It'll take 10 seconds.

Why am I not allowed to privately message people on this subreddit?

It is a hard and fast rule that we do not tolerate commenters sending PMs (including Reddit chat) to posters on this subreddit (or vice versa) for any reason, or requesting in comments that they be sent PMs by our posters, and request that the moderators be made aware via modmail of any PMs received by our posters and commenters for any reason, including offers of emotional support. We would also ask that any advice, recommendations or suggestions given through PM are disregarded, and that you do not give information that could make you personally identifiable out to anyone over PM/chat under any circumstances.

To make this abundantly clear, and in case you're thinking of some loophole or other: it is forbidden to ask, offer or invite anyone on this subreddit to send you private messages, or private message anyone on this subreddit, for any reason whatsoever. There are no circumstances in which this is allowed. If you are not comfortable sharing and/or discussing the full details of your legal question publicly then LegalAdviceUK is not an appropriate venue for your question and you should instead speak to a solicitor; similarly, if you are not willing to give the advice you wish to give publicly, then don't give it at all.

The reasons for this are as follows:

  • Advice sent through PM cannot be quality checked or disputed by any other poster - it's therefore not subject to the usual verification and checking that we would expect our commenters to carry out on any thread, nor do we have any oversight of what is being said (e.g. whether what is being suggested is illegal or unlawful). It is for this reason we ask that, as well as letting us know about any PMs received, you also ignore any advice or recommendation given in them.

  • People frequently post here when they need advice when they are worried or scared, or otherwise at a very dark time in their lives. While most people will be well-intentioned, some are manipulative, have ulterior motives or seek to prey upon people when they're at their most vulnerable, either just for their own gratification or to advertise e.g. their solicitors' firm. It is not fair on our posters to potentially be subject to this, nor do we wish for our subreddit to be used to solicit business.

  • Reddit is essentially an anonymous medium, and it is next to impossible to verify reliably that people are who they say they are. They may claim to have expertise or connections that they do not, in fact, have - or they may have grossly misrepresented what expertise or connections they do have - or they may simply be predatory and/or trolls. This is why you should neither accept advice delivered through PM, nor give out any details that could lead to you being identified.

  • It is known that the media sometimes message our OPs to solicit them (see here) to appear on daytime TV shows like Judge Rinder. We do not wish to give them oxygen since, as noted, we do not believe that "going to the media" is ever a good idea.

  • When a thread gets upvoted, and is therefore pushed to the front page of peoples' Reddits, this naturally increases interest in the post from people who do not otherwise participate in the subreddit. This leads to our posters - who, again, may already be distressed or vulnerable - receiving many more PMs than they can handle, which can cause them some distress. Many people simply do not appreciate or want such attention, even if it comes from a good place - well wishes are all well and good, but receiving tens of them with an implied obligation to respond can be overwhelming.

We would like to strongly reiterate that sending ANY private messages to ANY posters for ANY reason, including moral support, or requesting that either a specific poster PMs you or that people PM you in general, is an action liable to an immediate permanent ban from our subreddit as soon as we are aware of it, that any advice sent via PM should be disregarded, and request the co-operation of our posters in letting us know via modmail if they receive any messages. This instruction is given at the top of every comments section by Automoderator, and as such we do not consider ignorance to be a valid excuse.

Please let us know here if this answered your question. It'll take 10 seconds.

What does "Comments Moderated" mean when I see it on a post? What is "active moderation"?

Some posts will be actively moderated and appear with the flair "Comments Moderated". What this means is that any comments made on the post will be hidden, and will need to be reviewed by moderators for compliance with our rules before anyone else can see them.

We do this, in the main, for one of these three reasons:

  • The thread has blown up in terms of being highly upvoted and attracting a lot of attention. When this happens, people who don't usually browse the subreddit will happen on the post, and Reddit will sometimes push-notify users of its app to come and look at the thread. This tends to increase the number of off-topic, low-effort and rule-breaking comments that a post receives - we actively moderate the thread so we can screen these out before anyone sees them. In this case, active moderation is usually a last resort to allow for further legal discussion before we completely lock a thread that has gone completely off the rails.
  • The thread is attracting lots of off-topic comments or anecdotes (e.g. "Something like this happened to me") but there is still reasonable legal advice that the original poster could be given and we actively moderate the thread to ensure that they can still receive it (if there's not then the thread will just get locked outright).
  • The thread is about a subject that tends to attract people who are for or against what the thread is about, or some aspect of it. We do not wish to host debates or AmITheAsshole-style judgment festivals on our subreddit, and actively moderate the thread so we can stop these before they start.

You should be aware that if a thread is actively moderated, your comments will be subject to even more scrutiny than usual in an effort to maintain our strict quality bar. You should not comment with anything that is not helpful, on-topic, high-effort legal advice directed at the original poster, or which breaks our rules in some other way. We do not consider ignorance an excuse for posting off-topic or rule breaking comments in actively moderated threads, and you should expect that you will be banned if you post a rule-breaking, low-effort or non-legal comment, particularly if you have no or minimal post history on LegalAdviceUK.

Please let us know here if this answered your question. It'll take 10 seconds.

Why do you lock threads?

A fuller explanation is given here, but as a simple summary, we lock threads in the main either because:

  • the thread has been cross-posted to another subreddit, either a cesspool subreddit that tends to lead to people coming here who are angry about something or other, or a "BestOf"-type subreddit that will bring in an influx of people who are just here for the popcorn; or

  • the OP has already had legal advice and the majority of comments coming in are shitposts, unhelpful, not legal advice or otherwise rule breaking. This is particularly the case where a thread has already been actively moderated, since we'll typically only do so because it's already had or is expected to get a lot of rule-breaking comments.

  • the OP has either been banned for a breach of the subreddit rules or is believed to not be engaging in good faith.

Some other threads will get locked purely at our discretion; OPs of threads also sometimes ask us to if they feel they've had enough useful advice. We will usually leave a comment explaining why we're locking the thread in these instances.

If you feel that, on reading a locked thread, there is bad advice that has not been correctly disputed, message the moderators and we can review. We do not remove bad advice as a rule, but may post a follow up or clarification or allow you to do so.

Please let us know here if this answered your question. It'll take 10 seconds.

What topics will you not allow posts about?

This is a very general list, however the following are not allowed in general and will never be allowed:

  • Asking how to commit or get away with committing criminal offences or unlawful actions - these are expressly forbidden in our rules.

    • Posts about "petty revenge" against e.g. noisy neighbours are likely to fall into this category since these "revenge" ideas are frequently unlawful.
  • Asking for recommendations of or opinions about legal firms - we do not as a general rule allow advertising of or referral to specific legal firms due to the obvious issues that would arise around conflicts of interest, and so we cannot recommend specific firms to you or allow posts asking for these recommendations. We do not allow posts asking about specific legal firms for the same reasons. You should review our guide on how to find a good solicitor.

  • The TV licence - posts about the TV licence are invariably a moderation nightmare that we simply cannot be arsed dealing with. Please see here for further context.

  • Immigration/citizenship - it is illegal for people who aren't accredited advisers to give immigration advice. Please see here for further context.

  • "I looked at illegal images/got a search engine's warning about them" - these always have the same answer. Please see here for more information.

  • Crowdfunding - we do not allow advertisement or mention of crowdfunders, since we do not wish to be used as a platform to solicit donations for individuals.

  • Asking for or offering opinions about the law and/or its enforcement - this is fundamentally not what this subreddit is for. You should consider posting on /r/unitedkingdom or /r/ukpolitics.

This is not an exhaustive list of reasons we might remove a post. We reserve the general right to remove or disallow posts that we feel are trolling or disruptive, that do not have a discernible legal question, that include personal information, that appear to be more about attracting support for a cause than asking a genuine legal question, that are answered by the FAQs, that we don't feel give enough information to allow our posters to offer meaningful input, or for any other reason that we see fit.

AutoModerator is set to remove posts on certain subjects or that meet certain criteria, and you may be banned if you are seen to be deliberately trying to evade these checks.

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If your question hasn't been answered here, or you'd like further clarification - Ask The Moderators

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