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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 47420
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I engaged a solicitor with an up front payment to assist me

Customer Question

I engaged a solicitor with an up front payment to assist me with an employment dispute, which resulted in a Settlement Agreement. During negotiation, my employer increased their legal fee contribution directly with my solicitor. I am not happy about this because it was not explicitly highlighted to me. It feels my employer was able to use this to incentivise my solicitor to "persuade" me into accepting the Settlement Agreement when I was still in the decision-making process. Surely this is huge conflict of interest?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. When was the agreement signed and what are you hoping to achieve?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, not sure if you saw my initial query above - When was the agreement signed and what are you hoping to achieve?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The Agreement was signed 29 January 2016. I want to know whether I am entitled to recover some of the money I initially paid my solicitor to represent me. I also want to know whether I was correctly represented when I signed the agreement, as it feels there was a conflict of interest because my solicitor was doubled paid: (1) by me on two occasions totalling £1,600 to represent me. (2) later by my employer £500 to conclude the matter.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
In the circumstances you would have been the solicitor’s official client. It is common for employers to offer a contribution towards legal costs in settlement agreement advice but you still remain their client. This means that they would have a duty to act in your best interests. If their fees in advising you about the settlement agreement had increased, the employer could have offered to pay these but you should have been informed of this. As mentioned you are the client and they are only accountable to you so you should have been kept informed about any changes in fees. The fact that they received an increased contribution from the employer does not automatically mean that they had not acted in your best interests when they advised you on the merits of the settlement agreement. I suppose you may not know for certain unless you had received advice from another lawyer who commented on the merits and it could have been the same outcome. You may nevertheless ask for a reduction in costs and also state that you are considering taking the natter further to complain to the regulatory body – his may prompt them to reconsider their position and agree on some reduction in costs on the hope that you do not take it any further. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the options you have for taking this further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. The accepted procedure to complain about a solicitor is to first complain to them using their own complaints procedure. They should have an official complaints procedure so follow that. If that does not resolve the matter, you can consider going to the next step, which is going to the Legal Ombudsman. You can do this by calling them on 0300(###) ###-####and they will guide you through the process.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
You are welcome

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