To ask....do solicitors f***ing realise how there shit work Impacts on real peoples lives

(113 Posts)
Mightbemiddleaged Thu 10-Oct-13 17:42:34

....because I have been sobbing my heart out all day as the house we have been desperately waiting to move into for five months has now fallen through due to the complete ineptitude of all the solicitors involved.

There was a small legal issue to resolve wrt our sale and it can and should have taken no longer than a month.

Four months later and now no-one wil even respond to our requests for updates or try to hurry the fuck along on our behalf. The vendors of the house we should be buying have lost patience and pulled out, wo can blame them.

It's taken 15 months to get this far from putting house on the market and I literally cannot face the thought of going through this again. I actually feel desperate today and like I'm on the edge of some sort of breakdown.

I actually hate and despise these people the lazy heartless bastards sad

Twilightsparklesmama Thu 10-Oct-13 21:29:17

I'm sorry you have a bad experience but YABVVVVVU and rude to generalise a profession based on a bad experience.

What you perceived as a simple problem is in fact likely to have been fairly complex to resolve. Your neighbours property was in mortgage, the lenders consent to transfer part of the Property to you was required. This would have taken time to obtain. The land registry take much longer to deal with a transfer of part then a transfer of a whole title. I have known the land registry to take over 6 weeks to register something like this. You expected this to take a month to resolve I think this was mid guided. There is of course no excuse for your solicitor to not have kept you up to speed but their lack of communication doesn't mean lack of work.

The constant demand for cheap legal work and changes to who can carry out regulated work has pushed the legal profession to breaking point.

The poster who mentioned their Fathers probate, in England the Law society have practice guides to solicitors dealing with appointment of solicitors as executors. The solicitor has an obligation to keep the beneficiary informed as to progress and costs. They must also consider whether it is appropriate to take the appointment having regard to the complexity of the estate. I have arranged deeds of renunciation in estates where my firm has been appointed.

Having said that 6 months is not an excessive time to administer an estate. The year after death is referred to the executors year as this is thought to be a reasonable time to administer. There are time frames to consider, I would never pay out inheritance until at least 6 months after the grant due to the risk of claims against the estate.

I note you are in Scotland, but I suspect the position may be similar.

cafecito Thu 10-Oct-13 21:34:05

You could sue the solicitor if you felt they were negligent -this is why solicitors have professional indemnity insurance - some firms specialise in suing negligent solicitors. you could complain to the SRA/Law Soc if you so wished.

However there are many brilliant solicitors who give their all to the profession. Clients are not always happy with an end result - that's just the way the cookie crumbles. Unless there has been actual professional negligence on the part of the solicitor there is not a great deal of purpose in taking it further.

emsyj Thu 10-Oct-13 21:39:14

I used to be a solicitor and I do think that a big part of the job when dealing with any client is making sure that they are 100% clear on what you're doing, why you need to do it, how long it will take and how much it will cost. I wasn't a conveyancer so I can't speculate on why it might have been that your solicitor has made seemingly zero progress - BUT it is a bloody disgrace if you, as the client, are sitting there utterly clueless about what's going on. You should complain. Even if the reasons for the delay are totally legitimate and real, as the client you should have been made aware of those reasons without having to harass the solicitor for an explanation. If there's one thing that gets my goat it's people who don't bloody speak to the client. I have worked with people like this - who let every phone call go through to their secretary and then don't return the message. It is so unprofessional - and rude.

Chunderella Thu 10-Oct-13 21:41:02

Alibaba there is a great big difference between saying that the legal profession doesn't always look after clients well and saying that solicitors don't seem to have the same standards as other professions. The former is clearly correct, and I can assure you that this is true at the 'higher' end also and not just for 'small' clients. The latter is a massive broad generalisation that ithaka clearly can't possibly back up- there are hundreds of thousands of professionals in the UK and she'd have to have come across a significant number of them.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Fri 11-Oct-13 07:40:04

I wonder if a lot of the problems occur because most of us non lawyers don't understand what lawyers do.

as a client I have actioned one employment law case and one IP case. by the end of each process, I had changed my views significantly and the law/legal process was not at all like what I thought it was at the beginning.

oh & my IP lawyer was very attractive so I was a joy to discuss the case with him.... legal eye candy phroar!!!!!!!!!!!

bobbywash Fri 11-Oct-13 08:07:57

The other thing is in conveyancing, don't confuse solicitors with licenced conveyancers who are totally different. Also if people want to continue to push the price of conveyancing down, you're are not going to get as good a service. Just imagine the uproar if your lawyer charged as much as your estate agent.

Negligence claims over conveyancing are the highest percentage of claims against solicitors practices. I know with my own conveyance, the estate agents were blaiming the solicitors, when actually it was delays from both the mortgage companies that caused the issue.

So OP until you know catagorically that is is the solicitors and not the land registry and the mortgage company of course YABVU.

PeppiNephrine Fri 11-Oct-13 08:11:32

YABU. It's entirely unlikely that someone is sitting there thinking: yeah, I can't be arsed with that, I'll just ignore it. If was as simple as you think, it would be done and billed long ago, everyone would rather get paid than not.

RedHelenB Fri 11-Oct-13 08:13:33

Look on the bright side - you will have that boundary legally sorted ready for your next house purchase. There may well be a better house round the corner for you, or the new sale might not go through & the vendor comes back to you.

MrsHoratioNelson Fri 11-Oct-13 08:14:56

YouAre it must have been my DH acting for you wink

Mrsdavidcaruso Fri 11-Oct-13 08:24:05

Feel your pain when we sold our London flat we had to pay to extend the lease and it was agreed that the payment would be made when we sold the flat.

The freeholders solicitor was a nightmare, not returning my solicitors calls, not doing what he was asked to do by my solicitors, in the end it came down to a fax that he was supposed to send to my solicitor and promised to do it that day, three weeks later he still hadn't sent it despite being asked time and time again by my guy.

In the end I managed to find the phone number of the freeholders accountant and asked him why his clients solicitor was stopping his client getting £XXXXX.

Within 3 hours the solicitor sent the fax.

The thing that really annoyed me is that I had to pay the FH solicitor under the terms of the Lease extension and he charged a fucking fortune for doing nothing until he was pushed into it
and the fact that I was the one who found the accountant and made contact not my own solicitor who didn't want to know and said it wouldn't work and of course I had to pay his fees as well.

Mrsdavidcaruso Fri 11-Oct-13 08:25:09

sorry should have mentioned we had sold the flat and our buyer nearly pulled out over it

The communication you had (or didn't have) is really shit and is worth a complaint. So is the fact that the solicitor didn't mention the availability of an imdemnity policy to cover the boundary issue (we had an identical issue when we bought our house). £300 imdemnity insurance policy arranged in 1 day. Or perhaps they did suggest this, but your buyers weren't prepared to take it? Either way, now you have 'notified' the neighbours of the issue, it is unlikely you will be able to get an imdemnity policy in the future, so you will need to complete the negotiations anyway, before you can try and sell your house again.

deepfriedsage Fri 11-Oct-13 08:27:23

Be careful who you hand control of your life over to. Those in positions of power are attracted to the position for a reason.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 11-Oct-13 08:33:55

"I would never pay out inheritance until at least 6 months after the grant due to the risk of claims against the estate."

In the meantime the money sits in the solicitor's high interest account, with the interest going to the solicitor/firm while people wait for their money. I've known this happen to three people. A friend inherited a large sum of money after a close relative died (from the sale of a house - we're looking at over £200K). He didn't get the money until over a year after probate - there was much stalling by the solicitor. It was only when he threatened to complain that the money appeared. The same with my mother when her friend died and left her some money - she was stalled and stalled by the solicitor and they used the excuse that they hadn't got her full personal details - yes they did, they were all on the will, and she had also provided them to the solicitor on several occasions.

We nearly lost our flat due to the tardiness of the vendor's solicitor - our solicitor said that they never responded to any letters he sent, and what should have taken a couple of months at most, ended up taking around 8 months.

Oh and my mother wanted to change her will recently, which was lost by her solicitors. No apology, just "oh it must have got thrown out when we moved offices." So would they do a new one for her, free of charge, given that they were going to have to start from scratch again? Err, that would be no... (she had lost her copy, which didn't help the situation!).

"In the meantime the money sits in the solicitor's high interest account, with the interest going to the solicitor/firm while people wait for their money."

Err no. It doesn't. The Solicitor's Accounts Rules expressly prohibit this. We have to account to clients for all interest over £50. Client money must be held in a client account not the general office account of the firm. Breaches of these rules are taken very seriously and I've seen solicitors struck off for accounting errors.

WaitingForMe Fri 11-Oct-13 08:46:06

I've noticed a distinction between younger and older solicitors and wonder whether client communication started being covered at uni. I've dealt with quite a few solicitors and some of the older ones seem to expect a degree of reverence. I think clients also differ somewhat in that MIL just does what people tell her whereas I ask endless questions to my IFA, accountant etc.

Obviously there are exceptions but a solicitor friend has commented that its a slow profession to see change. Traditionally legal things move very slowly but our lives are getting faster.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 11-Oct-13 08:50:41

Is any interest over £50 paid to the client then, BitterOldOtter? So what happens to all the little bits of interest that add up here and there - the £49 here and £45 there? A friend of mine who is a solicitor said it was "perfectly usual practice" for the interest to be kept by the solicitor/firm. Neither my mother, nor my friend saw a sniff of any interest. I would say that both were too naive or embarrassed to ask - neither have had much in the way of dealings with solicitors, so I imagine this is the case with a lot of people. Why isn't all interest automatically paid to the client?

MrsHoratioNelson Fri 11-Oct-13 08:57:37

The interest is aggregated before being added to the estate. The accounts rules allow any aggregate amount of interest below £50 to be retained, mostly because it costs the firm more than that to administer divvying up.

The interest on relatively small sums in a client account may be very small and then there's no obligation to account to the client for it.

Soupqueen Fri 11-Oct-13 08:58:47

MrsS, in the situation you describe the interest would be added to the estate. Your mother and friend, if they received specific bequests would not receive the interest, they would receive their specific bequests. The residuary beneficiary would receive the interest in the final accounting.

Accounts Rules are taken extremely seriously, as another poster mentioned, and breach of them is probably the most common reason for striking off. I've seen a number of sole practitioners stop coping and fall foul of the Accounts Rules.

Wishfulmakeupping Fri 11-Oct-13 09:00:46

Sorry OP that's a shitty thing to happen its all stressful enough to fall through at the end sad give yourself some time before you decide what to do next re moving but think it would be worthwhile putting a complaint in

noddingoff Fri 11-Oct-13 09:13:11

When I bought my house my solicitor was swift and professional and explained things pretty well. I thought it was expensive enough but then two things happened
- I tried to read all the paperwork and my brain was melting halfway through the first page. I would gladly pay conveyancing fees to have someone understand it for me.
- There was a mild query over parking spaces- I was able to produce the land registry map with my space outlined (had not been defined on the original map- my solicitor spotted this immediately during conveyancing and insisted that the vendor get it sorted). If he hadn't done this the query would have turned into a time and money and goodwill consuming dispute. So his spotting this alone was worth the fee.
So, yay to my solicitor!
I like emsyi's post that they should be clear on what they are going to do, why, how long it will probably take and how much it will probably cost. I think this applies to most fee-charging professions and trades.

Tiredemma Fri 11-Oct-13 09:20:43

Our solicitor just bullshitted us along with the financial advisor that we used. We found out just by chance that they were both in cahoots to have us down as First Time Buyers ( I was aFTB but DP was not) and planned to pocket our Stamp Duty money between them.

MadameGazelleIsMyMum Fri 11-Oct-13 09:23:37

I'm sorry that people have had bad experiences but you cannot tar an entire profession with the same brush.

Solicitors need to ensure that clients understand what work has to be done and what timescales are likely - and update this if needed. Something that sounds like it should be simple can actually be very complicated and be dependent on third parties over whom the solicitor has no control. In relation to mortgaged land, the bank often have their own internal procedures and timetables for dealing with requests and a quick, favourable response is by no means guaranteed.

If you do not feel aware of the issue or reasons for delay, then you should ask, or use the firm's complaints procedure if you do not get a response which is acceptable. However, it is entirely possible that it is something other than the solicitor not undertaking the work - but this of course should have been properly communicated to you.

ILoveTomHardy Fri 11-Oct-13 09:29:47

I work in a firm of solicitors and I can tell you that the rules and guidelines that we have to follow are strict. Really strict.

OP as I said earlier, if you cannot get an answer from your solicitor, complain. Firstly to the partner in that firm that handles client complaints. If you do not get a satisfactory response then go to the SRA.

And no solicitors do not get to keep interest. In the firm I work for any interest over £20.00 is paid to clients. Bear in mind though that if you just receive a legacy under the Will then you will not get interest. It is the residuary beneficiary (ies) that get the interest due.

And as someone said earlier solicitors have to keep separate bank accounts for client and office money. A firm in my area was the subject of an intervention and was closed down for breaching these rules.

I work in Private Client law and it is not a good idea to distribute an Estate until six months has passed from the date of the Grant of Probate, in case there is is claim. This area of the law is reasonably complex but ultimately the Executor should do everything that they can to mitigate the risk of claims.

It is also worth remembering that the beneficiaries are NOT the clients of the firm unless they are also the Executors. Solicitors have to take instructions from clients and not from anyone else. Harsh, but that is the way it is. The firm I work for has a policy of consulting with beneficiaries where appropriate but this is not the case with every firm.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 11-Oct-13 09:45:13

Thanks to you all - that's very helpful. But in the case of my friend, he and his cousin were the only beneficiaries to the will - which was essentially the Gran's house and contents. They cleared the house themselves, and there was really no other money apart from the house. The house was sold, the solicitor sat on the money forever, and when they finally got the money, it was just the money from the sale of the house, less the solicitor's fees - no interest was added at all. His Mum told them to query this, given the length of time the money had been held up, and they were told it was not "usual practice" to pay interest. Maybe they were just unlucky with their solicitor!

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