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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10955
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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I am very disappointed with the services of our solicitor

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I am very disappointed with the services of our solicitor (a) following the death of my father recently and now find myself in a dilemma concerning the way forward as there may be contentious probate. There are two issues:-
1) I had approached the solicitor (a) following a family rift as I was concerned that, as my elderly father had taken my siblings side following a disagreement, I was constructively being prevent from seeing him. There was also suspicion of undue influence and the solicitor (a) agreed to keep a watching brief on the situation. This cost me a significant sum over 2 years but it appeared that nothing could be done whilst my father was alive.
My solicitor (a) retired earlier in the year with nothing being resolved and although he suggested replacements I was not particularly happy with the services that I had received from the firm to date and took no action. Unfortunately my father died later in the summer and as my father lived some distance away from me I hastily employed a local solicitor (b) as immediate action was required.
The new solicitor (b) did manage to obtain a copy of the will and other documents but this only confirmed my worst suspicions and everything had been left to my sibling. A new will had been drawn up only a few weeks before my father died. I was advised however, that contesting the will could be very expensive and my solicitor (b) was not a contentious probate specialist.
I do have legal insurance but on examining the policy detail it did not cover probate but I do not believe that this would be apparent to most lay people. My complaint is that the solicitor (a) did not outline to me the pitfalls of contentious probate although it was clearly a possibility. In particular I could have been advised to update my legal insurance to ensure that probate matters were covered.
2) Nevertheless I did try to make contact with the firm when I returned following the funeral and spoke to solicitor (a) replacement (c) who promised to get back to me after he had read the file. There was no return call and a few days later I phoned the office again and they said they would speak to him. A couple of weeks later I am still waiting but even if a meeting with (c) can now be arranged I have completely lost confidence in the firm.
Meanwhile solicitor (b) is awaiting instruction but they are talking about approaching counsel and have not really given me a good plan or costing. It could be best to start afresh with a contentious probate specialist.
Can I make a complaint about (c) and claim against (a) as financially contesting the will could well be a non-starter despite having paid for advice and what help or compensation am I likely to receive?

1. Dear Philip, you can certainly make a complaint about solicitor (c) to the Law Society for failing to read your file and failing to revert to you within a reasonable period of time. The level of service in this regard has fallen below what would be expected from a professional firm.

2. However, I doubt that a legal action against solicitor (a) would succeed. This is because you have to show professional negligence against the solicitor. In this regard, the solicitor cannot be taken to guarantee a result. The solicitor must only exercise reasonable care in attending to their client.

3. As regards ***** ***** you were at the mercy of whether your father would put you in the will or not. Solicitor (a) cannot be taken to guarantee tha t you would be included in your father's will. So this was not professional negligence.

4. Solicitor (a)'s obligation was merely to give advice. It was not to guarantee that you would be in the will. So a legal action against (a) would not succeed.

5. Please accept or rate the answer as unless you Rate the answer your expert will receive no payment for answering your question.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Buachaill - apologise I had too pop out."Solicitor (a)'s obligation was merely to give advice." This is the whole point I wasn't given advice about what I could reasonably expect if the worse happened. I note that the 'other side' in this case were given extensive advice as to how to protect themselves.
Given that my solicitor did tell me he suspected undue influence why did he not prepare me for the worst and give advice re insurance, funding etc?
I know I was at the 'mercy of my father' but also my sibling in this instance.regards

6. If the advice was defective in what you were to expect if you didn't inherit, then the advice was negligent. However, be aware that a failure to get advice about getting insurance is merely a loss of a chance to litigate. It will not get you compensation for loss of any inheritance.

7. So, whilst you will be able to sue solicitor (a), damages will be limited to the insurance premium you might have paid if you got the correct advice. The inheritance issue is something that will go uncompensated.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. Could it be then that the two issues could be linked and the contentitios probate solicitor (c) did not get back because he realised that (a) had not advised correctly thus making the service provided even more unprofessional? They do not seem to want to bother with me but I think I should raise the issue with them before I complain to the Law Society etc?

8. That is a matter of conjecture. If you sue them, you will have access to the client file and this might illuminate what is the situation. However, that is an issue which might prove difficult to prove. You can try speaking with them to see if this provides some guidance.

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