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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3557
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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Court proceedings

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Hello - A company of forensic accountants were ordered by the court to value my company during my divorce for there services I paid a very significant fee upfront. Because of this company and my solicitor there were numerous delays and the forensic accountant had to do an update. I was adamant with my solicitor that I would not pay any further money to this company as the price I had paid was already equivalent to about 3 years worth of work from my own solicitor. I never agreed or signed anything to say I would pay them anything further and now they are taking me to court. They have refused all meetings with me and I have just had notice that they are no longer using a solicitor but representing themselves. The divorce left me skint and their bad advice nearly cost me everything - they did not even have all the information for the update as it was rushed through a day before the court hearing and it badly affected my companies - I have told the court this when writing my defence - where do you think I stand?

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
Thank you for your question and welcome.
My name is ***** ***** I will assist you.
Did this company give you a retainer letter? Was the letter in your personal name?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

It was all arranged via our solicitor the court instructed the company - the solicitor sorted it out and we paid the bill via our account with our solicitor. As far as I know there was no retainer letter. During our correspondence however leading up to this point I have asked them to produce something a letter etc where they felt I had agreed to paying this bill in the first place but they have not sent me anything - I have asked for several meetings by letter and they just refuse. I never agreed to pay these further costs and certainly never signed anything. Im confused as why they should drop there solicitor at the last moment too as its him I have been writing too all along.

Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. So they never actually presented you with an invoice to your name personally or to the company?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

They sent an invoice to the Solicitor but I think it must have had our name on it - otherwise who would the solicitor no who the bill was for - it was the solicitor who told us there was another charge but we had told our solicitor before this company did the so called extra over work that we would not pay anything else to that company as we had paid upfront. I am amazed if someone can just send an invoice to you which has not been agreed or accepted for them to carry out work - that means I could just invoice any of my past customers without their consent and then take them to court for not paying me? Also if this other company charges upfront why would they then send an invoice - why didn't they ask for payment upfront again? I can only think that the solicitor had ignored our statement made several times about not paying any further fees to the company and told them off there own backs to go ahead with the work perhaps - this is of course a guess as the company will not meet with us to try and resolve the issue.

Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
If they are going to sue you for their claim to be successful they have to show the money is due and owing. This would involve showing at least an invoice and probably, as a they are a regulated professional showing a retainer letter or a quote for the fees.
On this basis what does the claim say? Does it have any evidence that you incurred this debt?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I am just digging through the paper work now and have found the original invoice it says that the work was carried out under joint instruction - this was not given by our side - a further letter says that it is a matter between ourselves and our solicitors and that they are invoicing us following instructions and if there is a break down in communication between us and our solicitors thats not their problem as far as they are concerned they just want paying. We told our solicitors without a shadow of doubt that we would not pay any further costs to this company - (I had someone with me on a number of occasions when I said this who would go under oath to confirm this) before this work began so where are we left - is it our fault that our solicitor has gone and instructed them to do the work despite been told that we would not accept any further fees from them? We have not instructed anybody if the solicitor instructed them without our permission isn't that the solicitors problem?

Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
Did the solicitor instruct them to do the work you are being charged for?
You really need to confirm this - if you jointly and severally liable for this debt with the solicitor, then potentially you may have to pay and then recover the money from the solicitor who has acted outside of your instructions to them.
Does the invoice name you and the solicitor?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sorry I was out of the office yesterday.

The invoice was sent to the solicitors office titled Mr X c/o of the solicitors. But reading through correspondence it looks like the solicitor has told them to do the work despite me saying that I would not pay. The solicitor has sent the invoice to us to sort out - because we had told our solicitor we would not pay any further monies to the company and immediately the invoice was first mentioned we wrote to the solicitor saying - whats this bill for and who is paying we are really confused - because of course we had said we wouldn't pay the company anything further. If someone has acted without my permission why would it be up to me to pay the money - shouldn't the company go to the solicitor and ask them for the money - if they had ordered the work done?

Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. The reason why you might have to pay is because the accountant had a reasonable expectation that the solicitor acting as your agent had authority to give instructions on your behalf. The key thing is the solicitor did not actually have permission, so you should ask your solicitor why they authorised the accountant to do the work without your permission. The solicitor is potentially guilty of misconduct for acting without instructions and therefore you should be able to recover any loss from the solicitor. How long do you have before you have to submit a defence? Kind regards AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have already submitted my defence. But it's only by digging through things for you that I am guessing the solicitor just acted off there own back - the company of accountants will not meet with us to try and resolve the issue so we are left guessing as to why they think we owe them money we never agreed to pay. If they are not willing to meet to try and resolve things I am hoping that this goes in our favour. If they confirm that the solicitor told them to do the work then at least we both would know where we stand and could involve the solicitor - I am certain however that the solicitor will go and deny all this - I just have the emails I sent asking why they sent the bill to us but at least I have something - if we haven't signed or agreed to this though how can we be liable for the solicitors actions. I understand what your saying in that if the solicitor accepted the charges then they expect paying - what I don't understand though is why it becomes my problem - why isn't this sorted out between the accountant and the solicitor - they agreed with each other - we did not accept anything.
Kind regards
Helen
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. Write to the solicitor and ask them to confirm why they acted outside your instructions. If they do not respond in 7 days then complain to the Legal Ombudsman www.legalombudsman.org.uk/This is a serious conduct issue and if the solicitor has breached professional rules then you need to complain to the regulator who has the power to compensate you.As far as the accountant goes how much are they actually claiming? Kind regards AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi AJ Its just short of £5,000.00 because they say they want legal costs too. The actual bill was another £3,500.00 roughly but we had already paid £7,500.00 upfront so you can see why we said no way to more - its about equivalent of 3 years full work by our own accountant.
I have emails too where we have said that the report was not completed the first time round anyway and that's why we couldn't settle the divorce. It was a bit of a shambles because our accountant was literally left with 2 days to answer some questions and there just wasn't enough time to get it all together - I think because of that the accountants report was way out and it really caused us massive problems because they said we could afford far more than we could. We have 3 companies only very small but still wages to pay and creditors - they left us with £250 in the bank! If it wasn't for loyal staff willing to work without wages and freinds lending us money I dread to think where we would have been. We have manged to get back on top of things and pay all our debts off but it's been a really hard slog 7 days a week and all because of the report the accountant gave. There were lots of delays and to be honest I think the solicitor had taken on more than she could handle and maybe that was the biggest problem. Anyway hopefully you get the gist as to why we are fighting this.
Best regards ***** ***** I will write to he solicitor thanks for that.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
If they have sacked their solicitor on what grounds can they claim legal costs?
Also this is in the small claims court so the costs should be capped at about £100 (approx)?
I think you need to lodge a complaint to the solicitor first and then look to settle with the accountant. You can then seek to recover the money from the solicitor.
If you want to defend the claim it is going to take further time and stress, but you may have a defence on the grounds that you did not authorise the work.
As an alternative if the claim of the accountant is frivolous and they have not provided any detail or evidence you could look to have it struck out under Civil Procedure Rule 3.4.
I know these are varying concepts, and there is certainly some action you can take but I cannot definitively suggest which course of action is best without seeing the file with your solicitor and the accountants full claim. You certainly have a valid complaint against the solicitor and I would pursue this and make clear you are holding the solicitor responsible for the loss suffered in relation to the accountant.
Kind regards
AJ
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3557
Experience: Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
Alex J. and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello AJ
I have been most impressed by your response to my question and the way you have kept things nice and simple to understand. After an awful divorce I really had lost all faith in solicitors but your response and willingnes to help here as restored it some what. Will I be able to contact you personally again if I have a problem please.
Kind regards
Helen
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello AJ

I need to ask you another question as there has been a further development but I dont want to just go back to Just Answer as I would rather it be you than someone else as you are familiar with the story now - please can you tell me how we can do this.

Many thanks

Helen

Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
No problem - Please post any follow up points on this thread.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello AJ

On Friday we had an email through from our solicitor, I have not written to her asking why she acted even though she was told not too. I have copied you in on the email she sent below. It was the closing agreement for the divorce and these items have been covered and paid for but as I have already told you this extra over cost for this forensic accountant was never accepted even before the work began. The document says that we will cover all expenses so the other half hasn't got to pay anything - summing up at the end was the part about expert witnesses but it did not go in to detail about what was owed to who just an overall its up to us to pay those fees and we accept that responsibility. But again this extra over fee was not accepted. I think she is playing the threat card in trying to force us into paying this extra over money because it says that if we don't do what was agreed- my Dad can go to prison but we feel we have kept to that agreement and that this is an extra over charge that was never agreed to in the first place. What really baffles me is why she is acting as a witness to this - what exactly is she witness to - I can only assume that she will lie as I can hardly see her holding her hand up and saying - well Mr x told me he wasnt willing to pay any further fee but I did it anyway - which is exactly what happened. I think it is more like trying to cover her own backside. Please help I don't want my Dad to get in to trouble and I feel like the solicitor is trying blackmail us more or less here as she has a better understanding of the law.

Many thanks

Helen


















Good morning



I have written separately in respect of the witness statement the Court are likely to ask me to provide and I look forward to hearing from you further in that regard.



I did however think it right to remind you of the provision of the Consent Order made within the family proceedings and in particular Para 4(viii) attached. In the claim brought by Mall & Co, the Court are likely to ask for a copy of the attached family law order where responsibility for fees is clearly shown. Obviously there is also significant correspondence and telephone notes etc in the file re fees obligations.



Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. The email still does not confirm who authorised her to agree the amount of the charges? Can you as the solicitor to confirm this? The issue here is your father is disputing the amount of the costs, which he is entitled to do, presumably he is not disputing that he has to pay something for the accountant?Kind regardsAJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Alex

The accountant was paid upfront - that is the problem he has already paid her a significant sum and that is why he said he was not willing to pay anymore - he told the solicitor this before the work was even carried out - In one email from the accountant to the solicitor it says thank you for your instruction to carry out the work it will be x amount - the solicitor has authorised the work even though My Dad has said he would not pay her anymore - the same day he sent an email back to the solicitor saying He was really confused and who exactly was going to be paying this bill - as he had already told her that he would not - the solicitor ignored the email and did not reply. She did that when he asked anything she did not like.

kind regards

Helen

Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi thank you. Does the solicitors retainer letter have a complaints procedure? Kind regards AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry I'm not sure what you mean by retainer letter what is that?
Kind regards
Helen
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi Did the solicitor send a letter detailing the terms upon which she would act? Kind regardsAJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I honestly have no idea - I will have to dig through the files this evening to see - I don't remember anything like that and I think that if there had been such a letter she would have mentioned it in her last email but she didn't - I will check and come back to you.
Kind regards
Helen
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. Can you check what her retainer said (if anything) and let me know? I will look out for your reply tonight?Kind regards AJ

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