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The quality of online legal advice was today called into question after a lawyer claimed a legal firm's Web site was handing out incorrect advice.

The pay-per-view site, belonging to an unnamed London law firm, provided wrong answers to a client's questions regarding financial and legal liabilities, he told the FT.

Few will be surprised to learn that the accusation comes at a time when a Law Society working party is drawing up guidelines for lawyers wishing to establish an online presence. They are expected to remind solicitors that being online does not discharge their duty of care to their clients, as well as providing suggested wording for a disclaimer for legal web sites.

Also unsurprisingly, the legal world thinks this debate could go on for a while. Apparently, a disclaimer could be rendered useless if a consumer were to invoke the Unfair Contract Terms Act.

But even if decent guidelines can be agreed upon - and given that this is a bunch of lawyers having discussions that is a big "if" - people are too ready to accept information on the Internet as fact. ®

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