Two Algarve solicitors are launching a programme in which English-speaking clients will be offered initial advice on legal problems at no charge.
Maria Manuel Santos and David Neville-Smith say they will hold their “first port of call’’ meetings in Lagos and Alvor, perhaps later expanding to Albufeira. Their services will also be available to French-speakers. Mr Neville-Smith is as fluent in French as he is in English and Portuguese.
“Living in a foreign country can be a daunting experience for many people so far as legal matters are concerned,” says Mr Neville-Smith.
“With our clinics we aim to fill the gap once occupied by a former English law practice based in Lisbon, which for years provided good support to the expatriate community.”
The two solicitors expect to be consulted mainly about property, family and personal matters. Free half-hour sessions will be by appointment.
Mr Neville-Smith says his profession is changing rapidly. “The old chamber of solicitors has been upgraded to an order that enjoys a similar status to that of advogados. The main difference between solicitors and advogados is that, as in the UK, we solicitors do very little court work.”
The clinics will be open for questions on such topics as property purchases and sales, mortgages, boundary disputes, registration problems, licensing of commercial premises (bars, restaurants, shops), rights of way, building project approvals, contract supervision, condominium rules, company formations and registrations. Personal or family matters will include probate and wills.
Formal documents will be explained and translated if required for better understanding. This, say the solicitors, will be a key part of their service.
Maria Manuel Santos is a Lagos-based solicitor with 25 years experience in the profession. She is married to an architect, Rui Santos, and so is used to providing cover for architectural problems as well as other matters.
David Neville-Smith has a degree in Portuguese applied law from the Beja Institute and is now completing his articles. He worked for the prominent law firm Neville de Rougemont for five years and was married to the Portuguese lawyer Carmen de Andrade Silva.