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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34278
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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Can a solicitor sign a standstill agreement on your behalf

Resolved Question:

can a solicitor sign a standstill agreement on your behalf without informing you.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Pl
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your questionPlease explain a little more about your position
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

in a solicitors negligence claim we understood it to be statute barred only to find out that a standstill agreement had been entered into and signed by the pi insurance firms solicitor on our behalf but with out us knowing. We found out 3 years later. The insurance firm went into liquidation 2 months after the standstill agreement had been entered into.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
What were the terms of this "agreement"
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

that the claimant would not issue proceedings and us, the defendant would not use the limitation act as a defence. Proceedings by the claimant would cancel the standstill agreement but we could not cancel the standstill agreement under the notice term as we did not know about it.

I know this is a very complex case and if you do not have an answer I cannot see the point in consulting you . we need an expert barrister I think. so please do not waste your time if you think it too complex and you do not know the answers.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
The issue is the basis on which the document was signed - which in turn relies on the basis on which the solicitors were instructed and by whom
With most insurance of this kind it is a requirement of the cover that you instruct the solicitors nominated by the Insurance Company - was this the case in your matter?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

no we have not instructed the solicitor directly. My husband had retired when the new partner changed the insurance firm. The solicitor who signed the agreement was the insurance firms solicitor.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

by the way, I have read that every person is entitled to their own solicitor except in the case of motor insurance. surely there is a conflict of interest when the insures solicitor acts for both the insurer and the insured?

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Was it a condition of the Insurance that their nominated solicitor was used?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

we don't know, we did not take out the insurance. the new partner took out the new insurance policy. My husband had retired 2 years previously. Surely when the insurance firm went into liquidation a year after the agreement was signed, the standstill agreement should have become void as there was no-one to instruct them?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for sticking with this, I know it is complex.

We have our own solicitor but he does not know the answer. The negligence happened in 2006. We thought it was statute barred in 2012. in 2015 we found out this standstill agreement had been entered into and costs and interest have been mounting up without our knowledge. We had never even heard of the insurance firm the new partner changed to which, as I say, went into liquidation in 2012, 2 months after the agreement. we had nothing to do with the solicitors who acted for the insurance firm. even if they had the right to enter into a standstill agreement on our behalf, should they not have told us? and when the insurance firm went into liquidation, should they not have got in touch with us? But we heard nothing till 3 years later. Thanks so much Clare.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
As you say it is incredibly complex
What did the new partner know (and when)
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

we have no contact. the new partner went bankcrupt and is unreliable.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
What paperwork have you received from the solicitors
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

none. not from the insurers solicitors. absolutely none. we have received a letter of claim from the claimant's solicitors.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
I had better check - are the solicitors still in existence?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

yes, a big firm. they have not contacted us, the defendant, at all about the standstill agreement, either in 2012 when it was signed nor when the insurance firm who instructed them went into liquidation. we received a copy of the standstill agreement from the claimants solicitors not from the insurers solicitors. That's why we think the insurers solicitors should have contacted us, if not when the agreement was signed, then when the insurers went into liquidation and there was no one to instruct them. we think and we hope that the standstill agreement then became inoperable.

I hope you can come up with an answer or some advice for us.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
At the very least this amounts to bad customer care - indeed arguably it amounts to negligence - and certainly I would argue strongly for the latter
Just to check - were Terms of Engagement ever sent?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

not to my husband as he had retired years before the new insurance firm was hired. terms of engagement could have been sent to the partner who took over the practice and very quickly went bankrupt but we never knew anything about the new insurance firm nor in fact had ever heard of it.

what we really need to know is whether the standstill agreement would hold up in court? and can we plead the limitation act in our defence as the ss agreement is unfair/wrong/inoperable/frustrated/??????

Are you saying it was bad customer care from the insurers solicitors who drew up the standstill agreement?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

And thanks again.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
There are two issues here.
There is the Standstill agreement signed by the Solicitors acting for the firm on the instruction of the Insurance Company.
I fear that the court will take the approach that the Claimants solicitors were entitled to assume that the solicitors were mandated to enter this agreement since they were representing the firm.
On that basis I am afraid that there is a good chance that it will indeed hold up.
However the second issue is the action of the Solicitors who were purportedly acting for the Firm.
It appears that if they did send Terms of Engagement then they only sent it to one partner not all those potentially effected by the claim.
When the Insurance Company went into liquidation they appear to have taken no action to contact the clients AND they signed the agreement without seeking full instructions.
The next step is to contact the solicitors and ask for their file - it may be that the claim will have to be underwritten by THEIR insurance
I hope that this is of assistance
Please ask if you need further details
Clare
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