Today I have changed solicitors, mine has done nothing productive for six weeks, and this has culminated with me being attacked by my violent ex because there was no court orders in place, despite me instructing her to apply for a non-mol and occupation order, there has been delay after delay, constant chasing by me then lies and excuses by her plus poor advice
She has now given me a bill, which is way over the estimate of what she said the entire divorce would cost (she only filed for the divorce 2 days ago).
She did not give me a fee schedule until a month in to the process, even though i had asked several times, and i only received the terms of engagement last week, which i have not signed. Does this have any bearing or add weight to my complaint
Some of the items on the bills i dispute, half the time i dealt with a junior but she has billed her full amount, there are things on there I did not instruct her to do - phone calls i knew nothing about, and I have been billed for when she has called and I havent answered the phone.
The whole 6 weeks has been unnecessarily stressful compounded by her inactivity and delays, and I believe has put myself and the kids at an unnecessary risk. Within an hour of instructing a new solicitor i have a non-mol and occupation order in court!
Is it best to pay the bill (avoiding interest) but state I dispute it and want a refund, or dispute straightaway before paying? The first bill is due in 5 days time. I think I am also in my rights to complain to the ombudsman and try for compensation?
Any advice in this type of thing?
I'm not surprised you changed, your solicitor sounds pretty awful. I think the first thing you should do is read the complaints procedure the firm would have given you when you instructed them, there should be a named complaints handler for the firm (usually a senior partner). You need to write a formal letter of complaint to them and give them an opportunity to respond. If their final response does not satisfy you then I would take it up with the legal ombudsman.
When I was looking to change solicitors, other firms wanted to charge me around £2k just to get up to speed with my file. Did you have to pay any such fees when you changed firms?
I did not receive a complaints procedure or any paperwork from my solicitor, not even fees, terms of engagement.
Because there is very little in the way of a file, i gave all the correspondence between my ex's lawyers and my solicitor as there is absolutely nothing else that happened. The new lawyer did not state how much he was charging to take over the file, but I have a fee schedule from him. I bloody well hope it isnt £2k!
I wouldn't be in any hurry to pay your bill. If there is no signed client care letter, then how can you possibly agree the terms of your
contract with her. sounds like she may have broken some SRA rules possibly. But they can't compensate you, I think the legal ombudsmnan can.
Whilst there should be a written contract do not rely upon its absence to avoid payment. By giving instructions to the solicitor to carry out work you will be expected to pay something.
However in this case it sounds like shoddy service and you should make a formal complaint dealing with all of the issues that you have raised. In relation to payment, I would hold off making payment as it is always easier to negotiate with the money in your hand rather than look for a refund after the fact.
I would refuse to pay, citing that her delay in applying for a non mol meant there were no restrictions on your ex.
I work with high risk victims of DV and SV. Do you have a support worker who can help you complain? Have you been discussed at MARAC? If so, I would include that in your complaint. It might be worth adding some statistics - 2 women are killed every week by current or ex partners - to emphasise the risk.
From a work point of view, I think you have a good enough complaint to get out of paying, however you may have to make a contribution.