How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Ash Your Own Question

Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
75100385
Type Your Law Question Here...
Ash is online now

We have just come to the end of a significant claim

Resolved Question:

We have just come to the end of a significant claim for damages from a car accident. Even though the case was successful, we have now been presented with a substantial bill. As the other side are refusing to cover all of the costs. For the first four years of the seven year case we were of the understanding that if we were successful we would not pay any costs. The solicitor vigorously disputes this and points to a letter of engagement sent to us at the start of the case. When I received the letter I returned with this to the solicitor and indicate that we could not agree to these terms and would not sign the agreement. It was my intensional to find someone else but the solicitor talked me out of it and was dismissive about the terms and on more than one occasion used the phrase "Don't worry, I won't be coming after you for money". He is now emphatic that he would have not proceeded if we had not agreed to the terms even though we know we did not sign the agreement. What is our legal position?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Did you not sign a CFA? Were costs not assessed at the end of the hearing please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry, I don't know what a CFA is. We were sent a letter of engagement that outlined the terms under which we would be bound and indicated that there might be a shortfall in recovered costs and we would then be liable. As the terms were very open ended I rejected them out of hand and told the solicitor I would look for alternative representation. He persuaded me that signing the agreement was not important and assured me he would not be seeking money from us as liability was not really an issue. Any indication that we would be liable for any costs we're not raised until four years later. At that time he indicated that he had already run up costs of £30,000 so changing solicitors did not look like a great option. Over the next three years he mentioned progressively increasing levels of liability.
When we eventually got to court the solicitor and senior council felt we would be best settling, which we did. He was very reluctant to give any indication of our liability but eventually indicated that a similar case had a shortfall in fees of £16,500. He has subsequently vigorously denied that he stated this figure and says it was closer to £50,000. The other side have fought hard to argue against costs and have eventually agreed to pay of the order of £150,000. Our solicitor has said that he does not expect us to pay all the money due but has still presented us with a bill close to £57,000.
I should note this includes costs for experts that the other side decided were asking for too much. We have tried to argue our corner but he seams to thing we are making up our ignorance of the companies terms and conditions. He has hinted that if we continue to argue he will remove the discount he gave and we will face a bill of around £100, 000. I would note , the victim of the damages is my daughter. I am just doing my best to defend her.
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
What was the value of your claim awarded?
Did the Court assess costs?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
£500,000. The court did not asses costs.
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Was it subject to detailed assessment do you know, the costs?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Costs were based on booked hours from solicitor and invoiced costs from experts. Other side has only agreed to pay a percentage of these. Solicitor has then said that they believe if it went to Taxation (whatever that is) they could recover 75% of costs. Therefore we are being asked to pay difference. Total booked hour costs and expert invoiced costs are of the order of £250k. The real point is that we were of the understanding that we would not be expected to pay fees and the solicitor is insisting that we were. At the time they provided their original terms and conditions I said we could not engage them under these terms and I was planning to find someone with better terms and a lower hourly rate ( he was £220/hr). He made assurances that he would not be coming after us for money and we have taken him at face value. Unfortunately, he refuses to acknowledge that the conversation even took place and says he could not have proceeded without our agreement. He is quite aggressive about this though I suspect he is like this because he does not have our agreement in writing.
I might add my daughter was only 19 when she sustained the injuries and now has a permanent disability which means she cannot work for more than a few hrs at a time. Bearing that in mind her settlement is in my view insufficient for being reduced to part time work for the rest of her life so loosing £57k from her settlement is significant.
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Ok. Under your terms you signed, did you agree to pay their fees, or was it a no win no fee basis?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

You really are not reading what I have said. We did NOT SIGN ANYTHING to indicate that we had agreed with the terms. That is the point. We have, however, worked with him for seven years and I am sure he would argue that demonstrates we had agreed even though he has no tangible proof. You wouldn't think the senior partner in a very, very large legal company could be that stupid, would you? I don't want to fight another legal case with him, but I do want to argue down his costs knowing that the law supports my argument.

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
If you did not sign anything then you are not bound. Although the Solicitor can indeed say by your conduct you are liable for the fees, there is nothing in writing that says you are liable IF there is a shortfall.In any event what you can do is that you have a right to ask for those fees outstanding to be assessed by the Court. This would reduce fees down even further and then there would be an argument as to whether you are liable at all. Given there are no terms signed, this is a breach of the Solicitor rules in any event.So you can ask for them to be assessed. But also you should consider a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. They offer a free, independent service and can examine your complaint at: http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/If that does not work then your next step is the Regulator. They can consider any breaches of the rules at: www.sra.org.ukBut you should have signed terms and conditions saying you are liable for shortfall in fees.Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you Alex, that is what I suspected. It also probably explains why he is so aggressive about this as he has realised the mistake he has made re the contract. Unfortunately he is a bit of a bully, but that is probably what it takes to get to the position he is in.

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Indeed. But you can certainly follow the Ombudsman and SRA route.Is there anything else I can clarify for you today?

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Thank you so much for your help. Your answers were really useful and came back so quickly. Great! Maggie
< Previous | Next >
  • Thank you so much for your help. Your answers were really useful and came back so quickly. Great! Maggie
  • A quick response, a succinct and helpful answer in simple English. I believe I can now confront the counter party with confidence -- worth the 30 bucks! Rick
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C.
  • This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!! Alex
  • Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult. GP
  • I couldn't be more satisfied! This is the site I will always come to when I need a second opinion. Justin
  • Just let me say that this encounter has been entirely professional and most helpful. I liked that I could ask additional questions and get answered in a very short turn around. Esther
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Jo C.

    Jo C.

    Barrister

    Satisfied Customers:

    30316
    Over 5 years in practice
< Previous | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/EM/emus/2015-7-7_192327_bigstockportraitofconfidentfemale.64x64.jpg Jo C.'s Avatar

    Jo C.

    Barrister

    Satisfied Customers:

    30316
    Over 5 years in practice
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/BE/benjones/2015-12-1_0437_ennew.64x64.jpg Ben Jones's Avatar

    Ben Jones

    UK Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    11553
    Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/BU/Buachaill/2012-5-25_211156_barrister5.64x64.jpg Buachaill's Avatar

    Buachaill

    Barrister

    Satisfied Customers:

    1754
    Barrister 17 years experience
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/JO/jojobi/2013-3-19_0265_maxlowryphoto.64x64.jpg Max Lowry's Avatar

    Max Lowry

    Advocate

    Satisfied Customers:

    894
    LLB, 10 years post qualification experience
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/UK/UKLawyer/2012-4-12_9849_F2.64x64.jpg UK_Lawyer's Avatar

    UK_Lawyer

    Solicitor

    Satisfied Customers:

    750
    I am a qualified solicitor and an expert in UK law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/KA/Kasare/kasare.64x64.jpg Kasare's Avatar

    Kasare

    Solicitor

    Satisfied Customers:

    402
    Solicitor, 10 yrs plus experience in civil litigation, employment and family law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/OS/osh/2015-7-7_19268_gettyimagesb.64x64.jpg Joshua's Avatar

    Joshua

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8199
    LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice