1. A claim for negligence. You have to show that the standard of service fell below that of a reasonably competent solicitor AND that you suffered loss as a result. You have 6 years from the negligent act in which to claim, subject to certain other considerations. If you want to pursue a claim for negligence, you should really instruct another solicitor to handle the case as the pleadings are quite complicated. It may be hard to prove loss in family proceedings because the outcomes can be so uncertain. Funding it may be a problem. You run the risk of a costs order against you. However, if you have legal expenses insurance on your household insurance, credit card or other insurance policy, you may be covered for running a claim of this type.
2. Inadequate professional service. Doing things too slowly, failing to keep you informed, writing to the other side without your instructions, being negligent without causing you direct loss. - the list is huge. First you complain directly to the firm concerned. If you go through their complaints procedure without satisfaction, you can then apply to the Legal Services Ombudsman. He will investigate the complaint and has the power to order a compensatory payment or other remedy. There is no cost to you.
3. Costs complaint. If the costs estimate was exceeded without you being notified, the Ombudsman may well be prepared to order a refund to you. Otherwise, you can consider an application for the court to assess your costs. There are risks involved in this and various deadlines which apply. If you need to know more about this, just let me know.
I have put in formal complaint to the Client Care Partner of the solicitors and also formally complained to the Chambers where the barrister is based for providing me with inadequate professional advice. The process takes so long and is causing me much stress!
If you haven''t suffered too much financial loss I would totally forget about making any complaint to anyone.
I put in complaints to the SRA regarding hideous and very obvious serious misconduct from my husbands solicitors and provided all the proof by way of documentation to show what had happened and every time my complaint was thrown out (and it included false accounting, false represenations to court which were very malicious, continuing to act for clients when they could see that their client was committing serious perjury, harrassment, acting for a client in breech of bar counsel practice Directions i.e acting without having obtained the funds from their client - they actually stated that in a letter to me and expected me to pay his barristers fees).
I agree with jonathan that to persue you would need a professional negligence lawyer and a initial consultation to see whether you considered it worth the risk (and they might not be able to tell you that and if you engaged a barrister you would need to pay at least all their funds up front).
My actual loss ((taking away what I thought maybe "reasonable" for the legal representation I had up to final hearing was £80,000 less £20,000 for family lawyer so £60,000.
On top of that was and is the ongoing battle to try and get into a limited company which if it works will be a financial loss over £500,000.
The legal fees to date are so difficult to work out as I now am forced to self rep I can''t really say but estimate at somewhere between £300,000 and £600,000.
On top of that the continuing costs of accountancy to a limited company.
Really you need to get proper advice and if the case is too complex and you cannot get a straight answer I would advise you to stop as you will loose your health and more wealth on this problem.
Sadly for me I have had no choice but to continue as SRA wouldn''t caution my husbands legal team, I have no intention of attmepting to sue any legal team who represented me (life for me is way too short).
Compensation for me would be to have my health and life back as my life and my health have been changed irrivocably as a result of all of this.