If feel you have been let down by your solicitor you should make a complaint as soon as possible to your solicitor or the person nominated within the firm to deal with complaints. You should be able to find this information on the initial documentation the firm sent to you, if not it should be in their terms & conditions.
If you need guidance on what to say in your complaint, there is a template letter of complaint available on the Legal Ombudsman website; http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Formal-Complaint-Template.pd
Your solicitor is allowed up to 8 weeks to respond to your complaint. If you are unhappy with their response or if they do not respond you can contact the Legal Ombudsman.
When contacting the Legal Ombudsman you should have already followed the above process; there are some exceptions to this and you can see the Legal Ombudsman website for more information. You must refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within 6 months of the final response from your solicitor.
The Legal Ombudsman can help you in the following ways:-
You may be wondering if you are in a position to sue your solicitor after being let down. Before you do there are a few questions you should ask yourself:
Firstly, have you suffered a loss as a result of your legal advice? If the answer to this question is no, it is possible that you may not have a claim against your solicitor, however please contact us to discuss further, as each case is dependant on its own facts. If you don’t have a claim, we may be able to advise you how to make a complaint about your solicitor.
Second, if you have suffered a loss as a result of your solicitor letting you down, is that loss of £10,000 or more? If the answer to this is no, again, please contact us as we may be able to point you in the right direction to take the matter forward either by bringing a claim yourself or making a complaint to the solicitors firm who let you down (they may offer compensation without legal proceedings). If you think your loss is £10,000 or more you may have a claim. Please contact us to discuss the next steps. The reason we ask this question is that if a claim is worth less than £10,000 then it may not be worth the risk of legal fees.
It may be that you wish to sue a solicitor who was not acting for you, but who acted for someone you know in respect of their Will. If you believe you are or should have been a beneficiary under a Will and believe that you have suffered a loss because of something the solicitor did or did not do, you may have a claim.
The best thing to do if you aren’t sure how to proceed is to give us a call, our experienced professional negligence team can talk you through your options.
New statistics show that solicitors are facing a rising number of professional negligence claims. It is unsurprising that professionals make mistakes; they vary from trivial typographical errors, to criminal dishonesty.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority recently revealed that professional negligence claims have cost insurers over £2bn over the past decade. Nearly half of this is made up in conveyancing claims.
Individuals and businesses rely heavily upon the opinion of professionals and as some work can be extremely complex, mistakes are bound to happen. These mistakes can cause trust and confidence in professionals to breakdown. It is common that after feeling failed by a professional you would not want to place trust in another.
The complexity of civil procedure rules and the difficulties that occur when people represent themselves in court are well known and several judicial speeches have recently surveyed this trend. They conclude that without professional lawyers to advise there are more cases going to Court rather than being resolved in the pre action phase. This means lengthier timeframes for claims and more distress. Being involved in litigation can be a strenuous and challenging experience even when you have the support of a solicitor, doing it yourself is not advised.
People sometimes act for themselves in legal cases, understandably, because of problems caused by professionals in whom they placed trust. Not all solicitors will let you down though, and it is always advised that you do use proper legal representation. Funding a claim can be easier than a litigant in person believes; there are many different options available.
Instructing a solicitor to deal with the process for you can reduce the stress and challenges conducting a professional negligence claim brings.
If you have been the victim of professional negligence and you would like to find an experienced legal representative to support you then get in touch.
A simple conveyancing mistake could potentially lead to a firm facing liability of over £200,000.
Professional negligence claims are increasingly common in the conveyancing arena and often can be of very high value. After all, purchasing a property is the biggest lifetime investment the majority of individuals make. In a recent case the judge awarded the claimant the sum £211,500 – the lost value of land caused by the filing of a wrong plan.
The case concerned the purchase of land and a subsequent sub sale in 2007. That is, the claimant wished to purchase land and then sell part of this land in a further sale.
The main issue concerned whether the claimant was given and advised on the correct title plan and whether he was also advised correctly in regards to the section of the land which he wished to retain.
In awarding the claimant over £200,000 the judge found that the solicitors had acted negligently in filing the wrong title plan. It was also found that the solicitor discharged his retainer negligently and/or in breach of contract because the advice that he gave to the claimant in respect of the amount of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) payable was negligently wrong resulting in the claimant paying more SDLT than was appropriate. The claimant was also subsequently awarded £18,000 to compensate for the lost SDLT savings.
The judge in this matter confirmed that the retainer of a solicitor instructed to act in a conveyancing transaction extends to advising a client of matters regarding the title that may impair the reasonably foreseeable use or enjoyment of the property. Further, he highlighted that the retainer also extended to ensuring that only the correct amount of STLD is paid. In his view both are incidental to the conveyancing process and he therefore found the solicitor to be negligent in failing to advise properly.
It was only in August 2009 when the claimant received an offer for the retained part of the land, that the negligence came to light. The sale did not proceed as investigations by the potential purchaser revealed the problems with the retained land and therefore the claimant first became aware of the difficulties and sought independent legal advice.
The case highlights the need for solicitors to be cautious in conveyancing transactions, especially in the current market where consumers expect more for less in a quicker time frame. It also highlights the large losses than can be caused by errors in the conveyancing process.
Following on from the April 2016 stamp duty rise, it is anticipated that there will be an influx of professional negligence claims in this area. As many practitioners were under extreme pressure to complete before the price hike. Only time will tell.
Have you recently accepted a personal injury settlement and believe that your solicitors have deducted more than they should have from your settlement? Have you paid an insurance or success fee from your damages and believe that it has been incorrectly calculated? Did you have some form of legal expenses insurance which was not considered by your solicitors? Then we may be able to assist.
When you instruct a solicitor they are under a professional obligation to give to you the best possible costs advice.
Under a no-win, no-fee agreement (a conditional fee agreement), if the case is lost, then a solicitor receives no payment for the work which they have undertaken in relation to your case. In return for taking this risk and funding your case for what may be a long period of time without any income or guarantee of success, usually your solicitor will agree with you that if the case is won, then on top of their normal legal fees which the opponent pays, they will also receive a "Success Fee". Since 1st April 2013, this success fee is deducted from the compensation (damages) you receive.
The level of success fee is based upon the solicitors’ assessment of the risk of not achieving success. The solicitors’ assessment of risk will include considering all relevant factors; including the merits and value of the claim, the likelihood of settlement, the level of costs likely to be incurred and the information and documentation available. In personal injury cases, there is a restriction on the level of success fee that can be charged, the success fee is subject to a cap of 25% of damages (excluding damages for future pecuniary loss). A solicitor can therefore be paid a success fee of up to 100% of their normal fees for running your case, but this is capped at 25% of the damages you have been awarded.
In practical terms, when contemplating charging a success fee that is payable out of damages a solicitor should investigate the funding options open to you, examine and compare the benefits and bad points of each and explain these to you in sufficient detail so that you are able to make an informed choice as to whether to proceed with the conditional fee agreement or not.
It is not enough that you have agreed to pay the success fee at 25%, the basis for the charging you must be explained to you and why and how it has been calculated. If the solicitor cannot justify the deduction and explain it, then this may allow you to challenge it.
An insurance policy can be taken out to cover the expenses/disbursements incurred in pursuing your claim and your opponent's legal costs. This is usually termed After Event Insurance (ATE). The decision to take an insurance policy will depend upon each individual case and you should have been advised whether to take out a policy at the outset. You should be advised at the outset how much will be payable by you and the circumstances in which it becomes payable.
You may have already had legal expenses insurance. Many individuals have cover with their home or car insurance and it is worthwhile checking these policies before taking out further insurance. If a solicitor has not checked whether you have the benefit of existing legal expenses insurance (usually termed Before the Event/ BTE insurance) and takes out a further policy, you may be able to recover the amount of any premium paid from them.
Recent case law A and M v Royal Mail Group, highlighted that solicitors need to ensure they are completing a risk assessment and considering the appropriate success fee when initially taking on a matter. If the client had a source of alternative funding, such as legal cover through their home insurance or car insurance, then fees for insurance would almost certainly be disallowed by the Court, meaning the solicitors and not the client would have to pay this amount.
There have been a growing number of professional negligence claims in this area.
If you believe that you have been wrongly charged a success or ATE fee, please get in touch today..
If your personal injury compensation claim has settled for less than you were expecting/believe you are entitled to; you may be entitled to receive compensation from your old solicitors.
The amount of compensation recovered might be too low for a number of reasons:
• the case settled too quickly
• the person dealing with the case missed something important
• the claim was mishandled
• the claim was not investigated properly
• it was wrongly valued
• the solicitors unlawfully deducted costs from compensation
In some cases your solicitor may simply have undervalued the award for your injuries. If any of this has led to an under settlement of your claim, you may have a claim against the solicitor.
Reasons For Under-Settlement
Under-settlement is happening more often because many firms now:
• recruit low cost, less or unqualified people to handle personal injury claims
• limit the amount of time the claims handlers can spend on a case
• encourage early settlement of claims
Inevitably, mistakes are made, either as a result of lack of expertise or lack of time.
What Can Be Done About Under-Settlement
All of these errors can be grounds for a professional negligence claim against the firm that dealt with your personal injury claim.
If you are concerned that your personal injury settlement was too low, we can obtain and review your previous solicitors’ file to determine if they were negligent. If they were, you may be entitled to compensation.
Contact us now on 0800 989 0163 to discuss.
If your case was settled on a split liability basis and you are unhappy or unsure why this was so, please contact us to see if we can help.
Split liability is awarded when more than one person is responsible for causing an accident or injury. Split liability can occur in any type of property damage or personal injury claim. It often occurs in road traffic accidents where an insurance company might judge that both drivers are equally responsible for a collision. This is also sometimes referred to as contributory negligence i.e. that you in some way contributed to your injuries.
For example, a 75/25 award means that you are or another party is 25% responsible for the accident/injury. You receive 75% of your compensation.
A 50/50 award means that you are or another party is equally responsible for the accident/injury. You receive 50% of your compensation.
When is split liability not appropriate?
It is not appropriate for there to be a split liability agreement in medical negligence cases where the patient was unconscious or under anaesthetic at the time of the treatment and had no knowledge of it. You are unlikely to have contributed to your injuries in these circumstances. It may however be possible to impose split liability are where you as the patient have not followed the doctor’s instructions or failed to seek prompt treatment. This may include a failure to take prescribed medication or attend further appointments.
The other side may wrongly offer a split liability settlement on the basis that they do not believe that are entirely at fault for your injuries. This is obviously beneficial for them as it will mean that they will not have to pay you the full value of your claim.
Wrongly decided split liability
Claimants, through no fault of their own, may have their damages reduced significantly as a result of their solicitor negligently agreeing that liability should be split.
Your solicitors may have advised that it is best to accept split settlement in order to achieve a quick settlement. If your claim should not have been settled on this basis, it may be possible to show that the solicitors were negligent. This means that you may be able to pursue your original solicitors for the full amount of your claim.
Bridge McFarland have recently recovered in excess of £150,000 for a client, amounting to the true value of a clinical negligence claim. This was recovered from the client’s original solicitors who wrongly settled the claim on a split liability basis.
If you suspect that your solicitor has been negligent in settling your claim on this basis please contact us on 0800 989 0163 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.