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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10915
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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G'day ... Question - In 2012 it was agreed with my solicitor

Resolved Question:

G'day ...
Question - In 2012 it was agreed with my solicitor that she would provide a report on title on the property I owned in order to take out defective title insurance with the idea that I could then obtain planning permission for change of use without any subsequent issues. She charged a good sum of money for this report and her bill was paid immediately.
We did not get planning permission and so I decided to sell with the property as was.
The buyer's solicitors, upon receipt of the property from my information, realised immediately that the title did not include a limitation that had been agreed when I bought the property. I had used the same law firm for the purchase a few years earlier as for the report on title.
The law firm has confirmed in writing that the solicitor who acted on my behalf did not notice the issue. In response to my request for an explanation as to why the report on title did not pick up on the problem the law firm has replied -
"The lack of registration of the restriction was not seen by the solicitor any earlier than when the sale process commenced. If something is not noticed until a particular point in time, then that is the explanation. You are also quite right - it was indeed pointed out by the buyers’ solicitors in the later sale process."
I have asked if in these circumstances it is usual for the law firm to retain the fee that they charged. I first asked this on the 21st January and a few times since but they have not given a satisfactory response. They seemed initially to be arguing that as I have now sold the property there is no need to respond to the question. They have now said that they will come back to me in two weeks.
The report on title was in my mind not carried out to the professional standards required, was unsound/not fit for purpose and in fact misleading.
Two questions therefore -
Is it ethical for the law firm to insist on keeping the fee for their poor work?
Is it a fair argument on their part that as the property no longer belongs to me there is no requirement for them to refund the fees?
I am not encouraged to go to the Legal Ombudsman at this point due to some really bad personal experiences with them.
Thank you!!
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 11 months ago.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you.
For now please let me know how much was charged please?
Alex
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I shall get back to you about that but it was about £1,000. Are you able to provide your views as to the points I have raised based upon this?
I am not enquiring about taking the matter through any claims process at this stage - I am keen to know where I stand should the law firm dig in their heels.
Thanks!
Expert:  Ash replied 11 months ago.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 they should act with all reasonable skill and care. If not then you can sue for breach of contract, if they have not done what they said they would or to a reasonable standard.
You need to write and set out your losses and request a refund within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this signed delivery and keep a copy.
If they do not refund you then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk  or by completing form N1 http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n001-eng.pdf and take it to your local County Court.
The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.
If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim so you will not need legal representation. Over this value you would need representation for trial.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Alex
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thanks ....Their report was carried out and paid for in 2012 as mentioned. Does the CRA 2015 have retrospective application?More importantly my questions were not related to my ability to sue - they were ....Two questions therefore -
Is it ethical for the law firm to insist on keeping the fee for their poor work?
Is it a fair argument on their part that as the property no longer belongs to me there is no requirement for them to refund the fees?Await your replies.Thanks.
Expert:  Ash replied 11 months ago.
In that case it will be S.13 of the Sale and Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.
That helps.
1) Ethical - yes, but morally it may be wrong.
2) No I dont think its reasonable for them to do that.
Does that help?
Alex
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thanks -What is the difference between it being ethical to retain the fee, and being morally incorrect to do so?What is the legal basis for saying that it would not be reasonable to argue that as I have already sold the property then there is no requirement for them to refund the fee paid?Thanks.
Expert:  Ash replied 11 months ago.
There is nothing ethically that stops them charging and indeed if it was not ethical it may be against the Regulators rules. But morally doesnt mean they can't do it, just on the face of it is is wrong.
If they did not do the work or to a reasonable standard then they are not entitled to the full fee.
Does that clarify?
Alex
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Sorry to dwell on this but I do not believe I have received an answer to the question -"Is it a fair argument on their part that as the property no longer belongs to me there is no requirement for them to refund the fees?"You have replied that you do not think that it is reasonable for them to do that. But what I am looking for the legal basis for refuting the argument "that as the property has been sold then there is no requirement to refund the fees" should they represent this.To put it another way, legally does the fact that I have sold the property relieve the law firm of any need to refund the fees?Thanks.
Expert:  Ash replied 11 months ago.
"Is it a fair argument on their part that as the property no longer belongs to me there is no requirement for them to refund the fees?" - They did not do the work required and therefore they are not entitled to the fee. It makes no difference whether or not you have the property still - its irrelevant.
Does that clarify?
Alex
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10915
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
Ash and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thank you ....That strikes me as a conclusive answer given after fair consideration. Exactly what I needed.Thank you for your efficient service.This is a long story which will run for some time still. I needed to have this element clear in my head before the next round with the law firm in question.Kind regards,Sonia
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
At some point in the near future I will need to know whether I can start with the small claim process
A - for the refund of the fee charged, and for the reimbursement by the law firm
B - for the insurance premium for the policy that they arranged (but which failed as a result of their error) plus
C - for the direct financial losses resulting from A and B above.
The value of A and B above do not exceed the sum of £10,000, but the value of C will be more than this.
Ideally I would want to establish A and B and leave the door open for C. Is this an area, i.e. leaving the door open for bringing the subsequent claim for C, that you would feel comfortable about providing me with advice, and if so how should I raise it with you?Thanks,Sonia

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