First a bit of ancient history… back in 1993 (before the Insider and Orange Rag were even a gleam in my eye – says Charles Christian) I wrote a piece for The Law Society Gazette about the fact the then Department of Trade & Industry had successfully applied to the High Court to have a company called Quill Wills wound up “in the public interest”. Quill Wills were a will writing operation that had been selling franchises to unwitting punters and the DTi alleged the sales brochures used to promote the franchise opportunities were “false, misleading and deceptive”. This was in fact the third Quill company to cease trading in a period of two years, the others being the Quill Will Bank and Quill Testamentary Services.
All this came as a great relief to Tony Landes, the founder and managing director of the legal software supplier Quill Computer Systems – a company that never had any connection whatsoever with either Quill Wills or will writing services generally.
Fast forward 14 years and the Quill wills business seems to have risen from the dead and is now trading as an online entity, called the Quill Group (not a UK registered company) based in that well-known centre for testamentary practice – the island of Lanzarote (in the Canaries). Its principals are a Simon and Jenny Harris – who may or may not be related to the Nicolas and Jennifer Harris who were directors in the old Quill Wills business.
The new Quill wills business says it is a member of both the Willwriters Association and the Association of Lawyers & Legal Advisors – the latter organisation claiming that its members are accredited to a similar degree as solicitors. No, we've never heard of them either – which is not surprising as both organisations appear to be run by a Simon Harris. And, just for the record, the official professional body for willwriters in the UK is the Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) – which was actually set up to clean up the industry's act in the aftermath of the original Quill Wills debacle. Also, not surprisingly, Simon Harris is not a member of the IPW and an Orange Rag source said “he would probably be lynched if he ever turned up at an IPW meeting”.
All of which brings us back to Quill Computer Systems (and its legitimately UK registered holding company Quill Group Ltd) who would like to point out that just as they were not connected to the Quill Wills business in the 1990s, so they are still not related to them now.
On a more serious note Tony Landes says “We have three main concerns: firstly, we are receiving irate telephone calls from clients of the other company, asking for their wills; secondly, we don't want our customers (who are solicitors) to think that we are in competition with them in offering will writing services; and thirdly, we don't want our reputation compromised by association.”