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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 26069
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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My daughter instructed solicitors to act on her behalf in a

Resolved Question:

My daughter instructed solicitors to act on her behalf in a divorce from her husband. I was paying the solicitors fees and I made a payment of £3500-00 against a specific invoice. The solicitors in their wisdom chose to use part of the funds to cover another invoice.
In a letter the solicitors stated that "As for the application to the conveyancing invoice. I had assumed this would have been dealt with by my colleague. This arises from the lien we have over client funds.
In an e-mail response the Legal Ombudsman stated that "You can not hold a lien against third party."
Surely both parties can not be correct?

B C Phillips
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

May I clarify please, the conveyancing invoice to which you refer - who incurred these fees please?

Joshua :

Are they seeking the balance of payment for the divorce fees from you or your daughter?

Joshua :

You mention that you specifically provided in your covering letter making payment that what the funds were to be applied to. Is this correct please?

Customer:

The fees were in respect of the solicitors costs in respect of the divorce.

Customer:

All fees have been paid.

Customer:

The payment by credit card was done by telephone.

Joshua :

Thanks. Are you able to expand upon the particular problem you are experiencing with the solicitors? From what you posted originally I understood they may still be chasing you for a debt. Is this the case?

Customer:

No the costs have all been paid. My complaint is that in my innocence I fail to understand how both parties can be correct.

Joshua :

Thanks. I understand what the Ombudsman has stated. I am not clear on what the solicitors have claimed. Are you able to kindly clarify precisely what they have said please which is at odds with the Ombudsman?

Customer:

I have quoted the solicitors comments from the letter. The Legal Ombudsman ignores the question. The question quite simply is does the solicitor have a lien over third party funds.

Joshua :

Thank you - without the context of the rest of the letter it is difficult to follow what they are referring to. Do I understand correctly that they applied the monies you paid for the divorce fees to a conveyancing bill and claimed that they could do so based on a lien they have over your money once it arrived in their client account?

Customer:

The conveyancing bill was in respect of an aborted sale on the property of my daughter and her ex husband under the consent order .

Joshua :

Could you confirm I understand correctly that they applied the funds you paid for divorce fees to the conveyancing bill and claimed they could do so because they hold a lien over monies in the client account?

Customer:

Correct, they suggest that I did not specifically allocate the funds. I dispute this absolutely.

Joshua :

Thank you. The solicitors are incorrect. They cannot hold a lien over property which does not belong to their client - being your funds which you chose to pay on behalf of their client they hold no lien over the same. There is particular case law on the subject - Stumore v Campbell [1892] 1 QB 314.


This case decided that if money is paid into the solicitors client account was paid for a particular purpose then no lien can be exercised in relation to the monies for another purpose.


Joshua :

Accordingly the solicitors are incorrect in what they say.

Joshua :

Is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?

Customer:

Is there anything that I can do without incurring expense? I can not afford to take on the solicitors.

Joshua :

May I ask have you suffered financial loss because of their decision? If so could you kindly clarify how?

Customer:

No loss has been suffered. It is the principle.

Joshua :

Thank you. You could seek a complaint in concert with your daughter to the firm initially and then to the Legal Ombudsman who have the power to award compensation where they find fault on the part of the solicitors. There is no charge for their service.

Joshua :

However if you have no suffered financial loss due to the solicitors decision then you would be limited to compensation for inconvenience and stress that may have been caused by the solicitors decision. Such compensation is usually limited in scope as the primary purpose of compensation is to compensate for financial loss. If you could show that the decision has caused substantial inconvenience and stress then you could see to bring a claim for compensation to cover this but your expectations would need to be realistic in what could be achieved. If the issue is principally one of principle you would at least have the comfort of a decision which presumably would go against the firm if the firm sticks to its guns even in light of your ability to qute the above conclusive case law to them

Joshua :

Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help with any further?

Customer:

THANK YOU. I WILL CONSIDER IF IT IS WORTH WASTING MORE TIME.

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