Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Could you please explain your situation a little more?
Hallo Clare: I wanted to ask further questions regarding my case but everything on-line appears to be mixed up your end.
I ASKED THE FOLLOWING 2nd AUGUST 2012. I WOULD LIKE FURTHER ADVICE.
Your replies are shown in blue.
I am in dispute with my solicitor. Each time I asked her how much I had spent to-date fighting a case, she told me not to worry, the other side had been so incompetent that her fee would be paid by them when the case was completed. She simply refused to discuss it.
She appears to have become bored with the case and has done nothing for over a year. The case seems to be no further forward than when she took it on.
She has now sent a huge bill for four times the amount I had fixed as my financial ceiling. Even if I sold my house I could not afford to pay what she claims to have spent on my behalf.
She does not deny any of the aforementioned but says I signed her agreement therefore I must pay.
I maintain I signed with the full knowledge that I could tell her to stop as soon as my financial limit was reached. Her actions prevented me from doing so.
She threatens court action. It appears inevitable and I feel my only option is to represent myself. Do I have a chance?
Did you sign any terms?Has she provided a detailed breakdown of work done?
I signed an agreement to an hourly rate.Yes. She claims to have done pages and pages of work on the time sheets she has sent me.
But she exceeded agreed costs?
We did not agree a total cost. I agreed to an hourly rate because that was what she asked for. I did not feel I was silly to sign an "open ended contract" because I could tell her to stop if I could not afford to carry on.
Were you keep regularly informed of costs?
Never. Each time I asked I was fobbed off. She assured me I had a very good watertight case ( I still think I have, in spite of the delay she has caused ) the other side would be paying her costs.
Thank you.First you should complain to the Managing Partner.Part of the Solicitors code is to keep you informed with costs. This is a law society requirement.If that does not do anything then you should complain to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.They can investigate and can prosecute if the rules have been broken.They can be found at: www.sra.org.uk
Further to the above I contacted the solicitor to request copies of her invoices from the signing of the Contract of Employment (possibly of 23rd November 2006) until the huge invoice of 13th July 2012, pointing out that I had not seen an invoice from her in the whole period of almost seven years.
I informed her by letter of the 23rd May 2014 that I could not proceed further without copies of her invoices as required by the law society.
She has issued Court proceedings 17th June 2014.
She readily admits that there were no invoices. In short, over almost a seven year period I was kept unaware of the charges incurred, even though I had asked on a regular basis.
You asked: Did you sign any terms?
I checked her agreement and I am most concerned. This is what I signed, it is undated
Re: Contract of Employment
I the undersigned :
acknowledge receipt of your Client Care Letter dated 23rd November 2006
confirm your instructions to act for me in this matter
accept your fee quotation as contained in the Client Care Letter.
My name here.….............................
When I asked about the above contract by letter in May 2014, she replied in writing:
“As to the third paragraph of you letter there was no “Contract of Employment”.
The point here is that I have never had a copy of the Client Care Letter dated 23rd November 2006 (the letter the contract is based upon). When I asked for a copy in a letter of 23rd May 2014, she replied:
I have already indicated that the date of the Client Care Letter should have been 23rd November 2006 but unfortunately whilst the letter was based on a precedent including the Acknowledgement Form, the date on the Acknowledgement Form was changed to 23rd November 2006 but the date of the Client Care Letter was unfortunately not changed to 23rd November 2006. You therefore have already been supplied with a copy of the Client Care Letter sent on 23rd November 2006.
I am now confused because the contract I signed which does not in her words even exist appears to be based on a letter which I have never seen and which she is not prepared or is unable to send me a copy of. Can she still enforce this Contract of Employment in court?
She has proved totally incompetent throughout. My opponent’s legal opinion even stated that I had received “very poor legal advice”. I do not feel that the service I have received is worthy of any payment whatsoever.
Further info asked for.
The case was with a local council over a planning application.
The solicitor claimed to have expertise in that department and I now realise the council just played her along for years. When they finally agreed to consider the case the council just brushed her aside as if she did not exist. It was very embarrassing. It was only at that point in December 2010 that I realised she did not have a clue what she was doing. She retreated and told me she would take the case to the LGO. Over a year later, and too late to take the case to the LGO she sent me a huge bill. She had done no work at all on the LGO.
Her total contribution was just a waste of time and money. The case is now dormant.
It arrived in detail with the invoice. There is a lot of it, all as ambiguous as her above quote regarding my request for a copy of the Client Care Letter.
Clares response after a few questions is:
HiThere are two ways forward and you need to do both at the same time.The first is to make a formal complaint about the service you received to the Legal Ombudsman - here http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/consumer/Please do this as soon as possible.With regard to the legal proceedings that have been issued you need to file a full defence and ask for the matter to be transferred to your local court for hearing.Your defence should also be dualFirst it will be that there was an implied contract that the work done would be necessary and carried out in a professional way and this was breached; secondly that the bulk of the work done was in excess of the work authorised under the Contract for services (not employment)I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further detailsClare
I intend to take my wife in a wheelchair and ask for her to be released. (She is the houseowner and signed the Contract of Emplyoyment with the solicitors.
I have been told that I will be allowed to speak. I would like to have the case put off until another time when she will be fit. The court are being very difficult and appear to be favouring the other party.
Is there anything I can do to help the case be put further back?
I wanted the case dealt with by LeO but the judge overrode that and did not give any reasons. I want time to get replies from LeO and get a proper answer as to why the Judge feels that LeO do not have jurisdiction.
Then I am being deliberatly lied to. The judge has said LeO do not have juristriction because the case goes back as far as 2006 (all delays caused by solictitor)
LeO say they cannot get involved after it has been to court.
Sorry, There is just mountains and mountains of paperwork that I cannot keep up with.
It appeared to me that LeO were investigating and contacting me on a regular basis, then the judge got involved and they just backed out. No proper explanation.
The LeO gave us the impression that they would get the matter settled without the need for a court appearance.
I am elderly, I am deaf, my wife is very ill and I feel I am being railroaded.
I don't believe he can prove his case. He did not invoice us for any cost at all for over 5 years. From the very first he told us that his costs would have to be covered by our opponents because they had made such a mess of their case. We believed him.
The sudden about-turn by LeO has taken us by surprise. We did not expect to go to court in March. We now need to play for time.
My wife is too ill to speak. I am willing to speak on her behalf and argue our case. She is willing for me so to do. We cannot afford to be legally represented.
Thank you for your reply. Yes, I filed a defence using much of the excellent wording you supplied last year. Also made a complaint to LeO as you suggested.
My wife will be too ill to speak but I am hoping I will be allowed to speak in her stead.
I am still very concerned as to how the sollicitor (it would appear with the judge's help) has managed to scare off LeO.
This solicitor seemed very afraid of LeO. He does not seem the least afraid of the court. It appears he has removed the case from LeO's jurisdiction. LeO do not want to discuss how this has come about.
Supposing I persuaded the court to a stay of (say) 6 months. Would LeO then have time to consider the case?
LeO contact is by 'phone with my wife. On hearing that at no stage during more than 5 years had my wife been informed of what she might owe, they were confident that the solicitor could not get away with it.
We complained to LeO, as you advised, within days of the solicitor bringing proceedings. Six months later he was still not giving them the info they were asking for and causing delay wherever possible.
I applied to the court for an extension of time to enable LeO to look at the case. The judge just refused out of hand saying there had been enough delay already. (We have never caused any delay)
From that point LeO changed. They claimed they would only look at the case AFTER it had been to court. I pointed out that they clearly stated they could NOT comment on cases that have been to court.
Now I cannot get a stright answer from anyone. Tomorrow morning I intend to demand an answer from LeO as to "If I can make the court give me another six months until my wife's conditiion improves, is LeO going to look at this solicitors practices or not?"
Hi Thank you for your patience and explanation.
I think LeO has confused us. They implied that they had the means to stop the solicitor from taking his legal action. Clearly they do not.
So now I will beg the court to allow me to speak on my wife's behalf and put our case to the judge. We will have to take what comes.
It is difficult for me to see what advantage LeO is going to be handling our complaint if we have already lost our house.
Hello Clare: There have been some developments. LeO have PHONED US a couple of times and appear totally confused. Overall, they do seem alarmed and surprised by the actions of the solicitor.
They report that they stopped looking into our case when the solicitor told them that the case was being examined by the court and the judge. I then observed that the case was not being looked into by the court or a judge until the day of the court case. They seemed confused.
They have now said.. .. .. If I can persuade the judge to allow my wife six months to recover from her demise, they will take up the case again and resolve it before it comes back to court.
They also say, that should I defend my wife at this coming hearing and lose the case, they are still prepared to look at the case as a whole and resolve it as they think fit with the solicitor.
In the event of a partial settlement they say they will only look at “the aspects of the case that have not been considered by the court”. Whatever that means they are unable to explain.
This all seems at variance with my understanding and I hoped you may be able to clarify some of it for me.
Yes, they are well aware of the case.
This is what they have written:
“We understand that xxxxxxxx and Co have issued proceedings against you to obtain their costs and that you have filed a defence which details the same issues as those that you would like the Legal Ombudsman to investigate. The LeO is not able to look at any matter where a court has mad a decision, We understand that no decision has been made by the courts, that a stay has not been agreed, and that you are currently awaiting a hearing in xxxxx
I feel that it would be inappropriate for us to make any assessment until the conclusion of this court case. On conclusion of the court proceedings you are entitled to come back to the LeO and we will review these matters to see if any of your complaints were not assessed by the court. Any complaints that were not assessed by the court would be assessed again on return to LeO.”
Ok. Reading between the lines here, if my wife in her wheelchair cannot talk, I take it we will lose the case, with nothing being “assessed”. LeO would then need to look at the case as a whole?
I would like to speak with Clare again on a legal problem
I fear I am in more trouble. My wife, a pensioner, was due in court. I had told the court by letter months ago that she was unwell, undergoing a course of surgery that will take about a year to complete and the case should be postponed. They would not listen.
Her surgeon wrote to the court some weeks ago to advise it would not be a good idea for her to attend due to her ongoing surgery. It was ignored.
I attended court as arranged and waited with her wheelchair for the private ambulance to bring her to court. Just before the start her nurse advised by mobile that she was unconscious and they were turning back to get her to a doctor for emergency treatment. The nurse diagnosed shock and stress.
I advised the opposing barrister of the above, who advised that I wait (over an hour) and advise the judge. I replied that I was leaving to go at once to my wife who was in danger. At that point I left.
My wife is in bad shape but out of danger, though still due for more surgery.
I am now very worried what the judge will decide about our non-appearance.