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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10915
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Afternoon I am an expert witness and I was instructed to

Customer Question

Afternoon

I am an expert witness and I was instructed to prepare an expert witness report for HM Coroner, which I did.

The Coroner has made many excuses for not paying my fees despite telephones calls saying that payment was authorised and would be made. These excuses have ranged from that 'he is not paying for the report until I visit him and 'defend' my report' (a practice unheard of in my 15 years experience, as this could be seen as coercing an expert). The latest is that he has serious concerns about my report, a new excuse which has only come to light since December when my debt recovery company got involved (he has been making excuses since October).

I've instructed a debt recovery firm and he has appointed a Solicitor from the Local Authority to be the point of contact and we've now reached a point where my debt recovery company can no longer get a response from his solicitor. I am now looking at starting legal action to recover these fees and what I really want to know is what are my chances of success? I have a signed letter of instruction from the Coroner setting out exactly what he wanted me to consider and my report addresses all of these issues.

Is it likely to be an expensive drawn out process? I don't want to go throwing good money after bad!

Many thanks.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.

Alex Watts :

Hello my name is Alex and I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :

Which party was instructed to get the report? How much was the invoice please?

JACUSTOMER-zei6hyeu- :

HM Coroner instructed me directly to provide a report into the death of a young girl, who exited the 9th floor of a block of flats. Two invoices were raised, one for £3825.00 and another for £

JACUSTOMER-zei6hyeu- :

Sorry, I didn't mean to hit return!

Alex Watts :

Yes I gathered!

JACUSTOMER-zei6hyeu- :

The first invoice was for £3825 and another for £450.00. PS, hi Alex, regards Stirling

Alex Watts :

Does it say which party is responsible?

Alex Watts :

Does HM Coroner accept they ordered and should pay, but are refusing to do so?

JACUSTOMER-zei6hyeu- :

The solicitor acting for the Family had been pressuring the Coroner to get a report and he (the Family's solicitor) found me. But he made it explicitly clear to the Coroner that the Coroner would be instructing me and responsible for my fees. My letter of instruction is from the Coroner. I have emails sent to me by the Family's solicitor, from the Coroner, confirming the Coroner himself will be responsible for my fees. The Coroner has made promises to me on the telephone and to my factoring company that payment was authorised and would be paid. He subsequently changed his mind, firstly citing that I have to attend a meeting with him (to 'defend' my report) before he would pay me. For reference, there was no mentioned of a meeting in his letter of instruction. Then his solicitor (actually a solicitor working for the Local Authority to whom he has passed these matters) claimed that there were issues with my report. The first I had heard of this, was when my debt collectors tried to recover the fees. In truth, my report probably says what he does not want it to say and hence this predicament.

Alex Watts :

You need to write and set out your losses and request a refund within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this recorded delivery and keep a copy.

If they do not refund you then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk or by completing form N1 http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n001-eng.pdf and take it to your local County Court.

The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.

If the matter is defended it will be set down for a trial. If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim and you will not need representation.

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Alex Watts :

You would need to issue proceedings against the Ministry of Justice though.

JACUSTOMER-zei6hyeu- :

I don't really understand I'm afraid. When you say 'refund' what are you referring to? He has simply not paid me. I have requested my fees on numerous occasions over the last three months and my debt recovery firm has also done the same. His excuses are what I detailed previously. Is my letter of instruction sufficient proof that he should have to pay me for the report? Also, he is now raising what he refers to as concerns about my report. How do I stand with respect to payment here please?

Alex Watts :

You issue proceedings against the Ministry of Justice either:

Alex Watts :

1) Online at: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk

Alex Watts :

2) Completing form N1 which is available here: http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n001-eng.pdf

Alex Watts :

Does that clarify?

JACUSTOMER-zei6hyeu- :

Could you address the following questions please.

Alex Watts :

Of course

JACUSTOMER-zei6hyeu- :

Hi, I did post some additional questions last night, but for some reason they do not appear in the chain her. I shall re-post them now.

JACUSTOMER-zei6hyeu- :

1. I have a signed letter of instruction from the Coroner asking me to prepare an expert witness report. Is this an important piece of evidence in the fight to get him to pay me? 2. He and his Officers have made verbal promises to me that payment would be forthcoming after receiving my report, some of these calls have been recorded. How important / useful is this evidence? I also have emails from his Office saying that payment will be forthcoming, how useful / important is this? 3. His first excuse for not paying my fees is that I had to attend a meeting with him to defend my report. There was no reference in the letter of instruction regarding this and it is not normal practice for an expert to defend their report outside of cross examination. Therefore, how 'legally / ethically' out of line is he here? 4. A further excuse which he made for none payment was after my debt recovery company contacted him and that he had serious concerns about the report. My argument here is that he never voiced these concerns when he received the report and even promised to pay for my report. This excuse has only come to light after he was chased for the money. How much credibility can be attached to his excuse here? 5. Can he use the excuse of having concerns about the report, despite promises to pay me? 6. If he can use this excuse not to pay me, what evidence does he have to produce to support his argument, if any?

Alex Watts :

1. Yes this is key evidence

Alex Watts :

2. If you have recorded calls this also supports you.

Alex Watts :

3. That is no excuse, I assume the report was not conditional upon these matters

Alex Watts :

4. If concerns were there, they should have been raised at the outset and not upon waiting for payment

Alex Watts :

5. He can try but a Judge will not necessarily be convinced

Alex Watts :

6. He has to show the report was either not done or not up to standard

Alex Watts :

Does this help?

JACUSTOMER-zei6hyeu- :

Yes, this is excellent thank you very much. I've just got a couple more questions and then I'm done. 1. If I issue proceedings against the Coroner, is the Defendant actually 'HM Coroner for XXX and XXX' or is it the MoJ as you mentioned earlier? 2. Out of interest, who owns the copyright on my report, given that he has not paid for it? If the copyright is mine, can I prevent him from providing it to another expert as part of their bundle? If so, should I put him on notice of this?

Alex Watts : It is MoJ
Alex Watts : You can't disclose the report to anyone else as it is used in proceedings.
Alex Watts : You own the copyright but you can't allow anyone else to use it without the courts permission
Alex Watts : I hope that clarifies.
Alex Watts : If this answers your question could I invite you leave feedback on my service which I hope has been excellent today, if you need more information or help then please click reply.Please remember that I am always happy to help if you have future questions, even if I am in Court I can normally respond within a few hours. For future information, please start them with ‘For Alex W’.Please bookmark my profile if you wish for future help: http://www.justanswer.co.uk/law/expert-alexwatts/
JACUSTOMER-zei6hyeu- :

Hi, these help thanks. I think my last post has for some reason disappeared. Given that the Coroner has not paid for my report and I own the copyright, can he pass my report onto another expert for example?

Alex Watts : Can he - no. It is only used in these proceedings.
Alex Watts : Does that help?
Alex Watts :

If this answers your question could I invite you leave feedback on my service which I hope has been excellent today, if you need more information or help then please click reply.

Please remember that I am always happy to help if you have future questions, even if I am in Court I can normally respond within a few hours. For future information, please start them with ‘For Alex W’.

Please bookmark my profile if you wish for future help: http://www.justanswer.co.uk/law/expert-alexwatts/

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