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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3840
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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My solicitor offered to settle my case without charging, which

Customer Question

My solicitor offered to settle my case without charging, which I have in writing, he has now changed his mind and wants me to pay, can he do that?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question and welcome. My name is AJ and I will assist you.

Did he detail the charges in a retainer letter?

Kind regards

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The company have been dealing with my case for 2 years and I paid for every letter, phone call etc. However, when we were close to a deal with the Administrators, my solicitor stated to me on the phone that in order to make the deal go ahead he would not charge for his time as we had spent over 30k and he wanted the deal to go ahead and we had stated that we had run out of money for legal fees. The deal was done and a couple of weeks after the deal he sent me a email with the following:


As you know, when I took over the file from xxx, I advised you that I would try and get a deal agreed with xxx in the sum of £0. In order to encourage you to settle, I told you that I would not charge you further if I could get a settlement agreed in the sum of £0, meaning that I would not charge you further if they accepted your offer at the outset.


However, the matter was complicated by the position in relation to the Insolvency Service, as you (rightly) did not want to settle until you were satisfied that the Insolvency Service would not pursue you further.


Accordingly I conducted a large amount of additional work persuading the Insolvency Service to provide me with confirmation that they would no longer pursue you or husband.


Furthermore, xxx used every effort to get you to increase your offer, and I spent a large amount of time discussing matters with them and negotiating an agreement in the sum of £0.


I trust you will agree that we have achieved a fantastic result, and that I worked tirelessly with both xxx and the Insolvency Service to reach an agreement to prevent any further action being brought against you and xxx.


I am required to keep time records, and my partners have pointed out to me that our time records for this period (attached, which do not include every telephone call with the Insolvency Service or xxx) are in the sum of £xxxx+VAT.


As I agreed not to charge you for the original offer and negotiating the wording of the settlement agreement, it seems to me that it would be fair if we agreed a fee of £xxxx plus VAT for this additional work. I hope you will appreciate that I have tried to reduce this to reflect our agreement, and look forward to hearing from you.


At the time when my solicitor made the offer, he never said anything about ever charging he just wanted the deal to be done. So what is the legal standing on this?

Expert:  Alex J. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your response and I apologise for the delay.

The legal position on this is that a solicitor is required to provide you with regular costs updates and cannot just charge you on an ad hoc basis. The solicitor is required to treat you fairly and manage your expectations as per the solicitors code of conduct.

This information will all be detailed in the retainer. If you check your retainer it will tell you the name of the partner you can complain to. I suggest the following:
1. Write to the solicitor and tell him dis satisfaction with the charge;
2. If he does not respond or give you a fair response then you have to complain to the partner named in the retainer;
3. If the partner does deal with the complaint your final option will be to lodge a complaint with the Legal Ombudsman. They will be able to determine whether you had been properly and fairly informed of this charge and if the solicitor can make the charge‎

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards