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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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I am looking to defend a claim from a firm of solicitors for

Customer Question

I am looking to defend a claim from a firm of solicitors for fees outstanding, which was for a stay application that I was initially informed would cost a couple of thousand pounds and ended up costing £85,757.66 for their fees and £75,000.00 for the other side to defend the stay.
I have taken this up with the legal Ombudsman the formal decision of the Legal Ombudsman found that my reason to dispute their legal fees was correct and that the firm in question should have kept me informed of the estimated cost of the stay application, either contested or uncontested so that I could have made an informed decision whether to proceed with the application or not and then give the firm formal consent to go ahead.
The Ombudsman wrote :
this complaint centres on a piece of satellite litigation relating to stay proceedings and the costs information for this was poor to none existent; the firm clearly failed in this regard. What I would have expected to see would have been an estimate for an uncontested and contested application. If I were to accept that the former would have been only a few thousand pounds, I cannot understand why the firm failed to update the accruing costs in advance rather than after they had been accrued. That is not how legal fees should be charged. In almost all cases the client’s informed consent needs to be obtained before expenditure is incurred.
Therefore, my final decision is that I find there has been poor service that does require a remedy .
The decision to pursue the stay was based on the following information available to me:
Previously the case had been stayed several times and the costs of those stays were minimal.
I was told by the partner of the firm that it would cost a “couple of grand,” and that it would only take a few weeks to obtain. If the other side refused the stay the court would decide to give the stay as we had an unarguable case and the other side would have to pay for the cost of the stay.
The encouragement that I had a very strong case.
I never imagined it would spiral to the levels in question and take more than 13 months never achieving the stay in question and a total cost £153,639.00, this was split £78639.04 with the firm and £75,000 for the other side (almost the total cost of the whole trial on my case)? If I had been given any kind of indication of the cost estimation of a contested stay application, I would have made a decision not to continue, it would not have been worth it as all it would have achieved was to delay the trial a little . The firm never had any chance of winning the stay application argument as the other sides vigorous defence was incontestable. This has been confirmed to me by leading counsel, and the firm in question should have known this. I could have saved the cost of the stay and spent it on the trial instead.
Further to the above the firm has never dealt with my dispute of £23,000 of old fees which were continuously ignored even though I requested to have a meeting with the partner many times to resolve the issues.
I have tried to negotiate a discount on the fees but I have only been offered approx 18% which I believe not to be enough. They are now threatening legal action .
Therefore I would like to explore the option of counter claiming the full £176,639.04 amount from the firm on a no win no fee basis.
Please let me know if this would be of interest to you .
Yours faithfully
Claudio Sarno
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you.
This is a question and answer site and we can't be instructed. I can tell you what to do but sadly we can not go to Court and act for you.
Is that ok?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi that is ok if you want I can call you or you can call me. I am looking to see if I have a good case to counter sue for the whole amount and the best way forward .My number is *****

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
If you want a phone call you need to click the additional service please.
Did the Ombudsman say what their fees should be?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes they discounted their fees to £69K, however I do not believe they fully understood the extent and result of the other sides costs I had to settle and Further counsel costs

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Did they never write and keep you up to date with costs?
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

no

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Ok. What is it you would like to know from me?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I would like to know if I have a strong case in first defending myself regarding their claim for their fees and second if I can counter claim for their fees and the other sides ?

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
I think you have a decent claim given the Ombudsman decision. You can use this in Court as it is in your favour.
If you want to counter claim then you can do this for any losses directly flowing as a result of the breach. So any losses directly related you can claim for.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

So I understand, I need to know what my case is exactly. Is it simply that they needed to have provided me with estimates of costs for both themselves and the other sides, should the stay be contested which it was ? and the fact they did not, resulted in putting me in a position where I could not judge effectively if going for the stay was worth it or not ? or is there more to my defense?

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Yes correct. They are in breach of Section 13 of the Sale and Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 by failing to take all reasonable skill and care.
Does that help?
Alex