To 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

ILoveTomHardy Thu 10-Oct-13 17:53:29

What small legal issue?

TwoAndTwoEqualsChaos Thu 10-Oct-13 17:59:26

Is there not redress through The Law Society?

Mightbemiddleaged Thu 10-Oct-13 18:01:43

Ilove the boundary of our drive was shown incorrectly and was picked up by the buyers own solicitor. We a on very good terms with the neighbours who were also affected and they agreed to 'help' us rectify the issue. They instructed solicitors ( with the agreement that we would cove costs, which have been held on account now for 4 months!) it's just that neither their or our solicitor have really done anything to actually get the issue resolved legally. It's all so pointless, to have gone through all this for absolutely nothing [sobs]

FreeWee Thu 10-Oct-13 18:02:51

It's their job; it's your life. You'll always care about your life than they do about their job. I often end up doing people's jobs for them when they seem to be not giving a shit (remortgage, insurance claim on house, recruiting for my maternity cover) but it sounds like it will be too late for you to try and do that. All I'd advise next time is chase chase chase. Don't care about being annoying! So sorry to hear this is taking its toll on you. Hope whatever happens next is for the best thanks

ILoveTomHardy Thu 10-Oct-13 18:04:19

Sounds pretty straight forward if both parties are in agreement to a rectification of the titles. I would phone your solicitor and say if they can't explain what has caused the delay to your satisfaction you will complain to the SRA.

Mightbemiddleaged Thu 10-Oct-13 18:05:35

Hi Free

Thanks for your kind words, I appreciate them today.

Both myself and DP are professionals and I am not ashamed of saying we pride ourselves on going the extra mile for the people we are paid to help.

If either of us sat for four months on anything we would be sacked, simple as that. sad

TiredFeet Thu 10-Oct-13 18:06:40

Gutted for you. Its hard to know from what you've said if they've definitely been rubbish but it doesn't sound good that it has taken so long. You can complain using their complaints procedure and then also there is the Law Society, but I realise that won't get you the house back.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Thu 10-Oct-13 18:19:47

it's just that neither their or our solicitor have really done anything to actually get the issue resolved legally.

do you have any idea why that might be? surely they want to do the work and get paid?
what is the last thing they told you?

Mightbemiddleaged Thu 10-Oct-13 18:23:04

You are, our neighbours solicitor were told the payment was being held on account 3.5 months ago. Despite this he did nothing and then when he was cased twice further down the line he queried the payment x2. He then st on it all for six full weeks lifting not a finger. Now it has apparently gone to neighbours mortgage lender ( that a month ago) but he is simply not responding to requests for updates!!

LessMissAbs Thu 10-Oct-13 18:23:26

I'm not a conveyance, but title problems can sometimes be unresolvable. Was a mortgage required on the property? Were you asked about taking an insurance policy out against the disputed boundary? I believe you would have had to re-register both your and your neighbour's properties with the Land Register, and obtain your mortgage lender's consent.

However, if your solicitor simply refused to respond to calls and letters, then this is a ground for complaint, firstly to the Managing Partner of the firm involved, and if no resolution, to the Legal Ombudsman.

LessMissAbs Thu 10-Oct-13 18:24:32

convenyancer I'm clearly not much of a typist either!

ithaka Thu 10-Oct-13 18:31:30

OP - I feel your pain. Solicitors just do not seem the have the same standards as other fee charging professionals.

My lovely dad died over 6 months ago. Straightforward, current will. No issues, you would think. Big mistake, he made his local firm of solicitors his executors, so it is still not resolved. My sister phoned the other day to find out what was taking so long (she is broke and really needs her inheritance before the winter). Solicitor sounds surprised - 'oh, it is straightforward and all done. It just needs half an hour of my time and I am far too busy at the moment to do it'. What other profession can get away with that?

Legal bods - is there any point us complaining? Who would we complain too?

Alisvolatpropiis Thu 10-Oct-13 18:39:44


The SRA wokld be a good bet for you, as it's a service level issue rather than negligence. The firm should also have a compliantly procedure in place. There's also the option of seeking advice from the Legal Ombudsman (an impartial body not a person)

MrsHoratioNelson Thu 10-Oct-13 18:44:17

ithaka I really object to your comment. Some solicitors are crap, just like there are crap accountants, doctors and checkout assistants.

To the point in hand, if it is the OP's solicitor who is holding things up, complain to the managing partner or whoever deals with complaints. This person will be identified in the client care letter sent to you at the outset of the matter.

If it is the neighbour a solicitor there's not much the OP can do except ask the neighbour to chase or ask her solicitor to chase.

It's possible that the hold up is not actually either solicitor's fault - for example the Land Registry might be delaying matters, but in those circumstances the solicitors should be chasing and keeping you updated.

If it is the solicitor's fault and OP is not satisfied with outcome of complaint to managing partner, contact the solicitors' regulation authority.

ithaka Thu 10-Oct-13 18:44:59

Thank - I have just googled SRA & it looks like it is just for England & Wales - is there a Scottish equivalent?

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Thu 10-Oct-13 18:49:30

ithaka could you write to the solicitor and say if they are unable to progress matter you will seek an alternative law firm.

ithaka Thu 10-Oct-13 18:55:35

I am afraid they will still charge a fortune, though, claiming they have already done stuff. Plus, as my dad put them as his executors, can I even do that? It so annoying, my dear old dad wanted to make everything as easy as possible for me & my sis, he wanted to look after us. These sharks are feeding off his estate when we are all really vulnerable - they seem to have no sense of a duty of care.

Alisvolatpropiis Thu 10-Oct-13 18:55:42


I think it's the Law Society of Scotland but not 100% sorry

LessMissAbs Thu 10-Oct-13 18:59:16

Its the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. But you will be expected to have put your complaint to the firm's managing partner first. Is there any more detail you can give about whether you or the neighbour required the consent of your lenders to re-register the changed boundaries of your properties with the Land Register? Was it suggested that you take out an insurance policy and create a good, new title for the new boundary in the sale?

The thing is, I suspect a lot of solicitors wouldn't want to get involved in conveyancing for a property with a boundary dispute. It can be a minefield, and take years to sort out, even with all parties in agreement. The better thing to do would have been to sort out the title of your property before putting it on the market/selling it.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Thu 10-Oct-13 18:59:58

ithaka it was more of a threat than something you want to action....

I don't know the effect of one of them being named as an executor - I am a client of lawyers not a lawyer.

do you know what the costs are at the moment? did they estimate the costs for you at the start?

GiveItYourBestShot Thu 10-Oct-13 20:59:25

I don't get it either. The people I was buying my house from actually moved out because they were worried about losing their new house. My solicitor didn't even know. He just dragged and dragged his feet. I'd been paying for storage while "my" house was empty. I'm sorry you've lost your dream house.

Glittertwins Thu 10-Oct-13 21:01:42

This is depressing seeing that some attitudes have not improved in 10 years. We had similar problems with our solicitor wrt additional searches being needed. He didn't bother putting the request in, I ended up chasing and chasing this and the company doing the work turned it around bloody quickly. The vendors kept threatening to pull out but the estate agents persuaded them not to go back to square one as they knew we had sold.

The grubby little shite didn't give a monkeys when I asked him for updates nor when I said we could lose the property if these searches weren't done.

I never did get round to putting in a complaint about him as things were also going highly pear-shaped at work at the time. If we ever move again, I will use a local independent, not go down the chain we got talked into using.

Chunderella Thu 10-Oct-13 21:19:26

Bollocks ithaka. I am sorry for what you've been through, and would encourage you to complain, but you don't get to make bullshit generalisations about hundreds of thousands of people because of your one experience.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 10-Oct-13 21:27:16

Chunderella that is harsh. There are enough people who experience these problems to make it pretty acceptable to say that the legal profession doesn't always look after small clients very well. The bottom line is that many firms don't care enough, and provided they can bill enough time they couldn't care less.

We've experienced awful problems with conveyancing (with two separate firms) and with probate. I don't know a single person who has moved house who hasn't got some gripe with their solicitor because they have failed to request information in a timely manner, or they have sat on funds when they should have released them or some other issue. It is disgraceful.

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!

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 11-Oct-13 09:46:07

I'd add that my solicitor is fab and I would trust him implicitly!

ILoveTomHardy Fri 11-Oct-13 09:58:09

MrsS - Solicitors are not allowed to just keep interest. As I said my firm pays any interest over £20.00. The cashier does an interest calculation before the distribution of the funds is made and separate cheque/s is/are then raised for the interest due.

In the case of your friend and his cousin I would ask to see the client account print out for the house sale and ask for a separate interest calculation from when the money was received by the solicitors up to and including the date that the money was paid to them.

I have to say though, even on relatively high sums, say £200,000 and over, that the interest paid by the bank whilst the money is on client account is usually a pittance. The interest rates paid are not great.

LessMissAbs Fri 11-Oct-13 11:07:22

I did some conveyancing in my traineeship, and I know that if my firm was acting on behalf of a buyer of a property with a dispute as to title or boundary, its quite likely they would have advised the client not to buy, or refused to act for the client if they insisted on going ahead. It varies, and there are ways of dealing with it, but generally the solution is to get the title sorted before putting the property back on the market.

Ditto getting two mortgage lenders to agree to a revision of the boundary on the title deeds during the sales process - increases difficulty in an already highly unconventional sale.

Its like where a survey reveals a problem with the construction of the property or bad damp or similar, and the mortgage lender won't lend on it, so the whole thing purchase is cancelled.

Lack of communication of the difficulty to the client is inexcusable though. Have you really had no letters or phone calls from them explaining what is happening OP? If so, definitely make a complaint.

Its innacurate to say that solicitors don't follow the standards of other professions, when it is one of the few professions to require its members to hold professional indemnity insurance to compensate aggrieved clients, its members can be struck off by its governing body for malpractice, and it does not let its members set up as public limited companies which can go bust and leave unpaid debtors trailing in their wake.

OTOH if a software engineer, teacher or HR professional is incompetent, you don't have any access to such protection and your only remedy would be to sue them in court..

emsyj Fri 11-Oct-13 11:16:07

"I did some conveyancing in my traineeship, and I know that if my firm was acting on behalf of a buyer of a property with a dispute as to title or boundary, its quite likely they would have advised the client not to buy, or refused to act for the client if they insisted on going ahead. It varies, and there are ways of dealing with it, but generally the solution is to get the title sorted before putting the property back on the market."

Really? How bizarre. If there is a problem that can be resolved, surely the advice would be 'we can resolve this but it will cost £x and take Y amount of time, do you want to go for that solution or pull out of the purchase?' I have only done odds and sods of conveyancing type work in the context of probate (plus the compulsory training at law school, obviously) but this doesn't sound right to me at all. It may well be that the sensible option for the client is to pull out and seek another property to buy, but as a solicitor it would not be your job to tell them to do this - just to present the options to them with clear information about the implications of each one.

Refusing to act for a client who wishes to make a purchase about which they are fully informed doesn't sound correct to me. Declining to act would normally only happen where either there is a conflict of interest or some other issue with the client relationship. Simply feeling that the client isn't getting a good deal isn't a reason not to act. Very very strange.

pindorasbox Fri 11-Oct-13 11:19:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Fri 11-Oct-13 11:32:10

^what they didn't tell us was that it was being repossessed as the father of the family had murdered the mother and then committed suicide (in the house). We were new to the area and had no idea.
Solicitor withheld the info, then our solicitor fudged it.^

but you were not paying either solicitor to tell you about local new stories - and its not their job to do that.

mind you a quick google early on - and you could have found the information. and many other local problems.

Ours was great. The solicitor acting for the house we were buying was atrocious.

emsyj Fri 11-Oct-13 11:39:44

The solicitor's job is to tell you about legal issues that affect the property - the history of the house in terms of murder/suicide is irrelevant. I don't think there is any professional way in which a solicitor could tell a client, 'Ooooh you don't want to buy that house, there was a murder there!' They probably assumed that you knew - and if you didn't, it wasn't any of their business to tell you. I can see why you would be upset to buy a house that you don't know the history of, but it really is not something the solicitor is responsible for. If you buy a house in an area that is unfamiliar to you then this is part of the risk - and it's not a risk that legal advice can protect you from.

Viviennemary Fri 11-Oct-13 11:53:33

Re solicitors hanging on to money from an inheritance. I thought there were strict rules governing this. I don't think many of them move quickly.

Amateurish Fri 11-Oct-13 11:58:42

Most complaints I've head about solicitors relate to conveyancing. My belief is that this is often down to the tiny margins which conveyancers have to work to. It's the one area of law where people tend to go for the lowest quote, and where the market has driven down prices. Pay peanuts etc. Lawyers simply can't offer the level of customer service which is expected when they are working to fees of a few hundred pounds.

LessMissAbs Fri 11-Oct-13 12:07:30

emsyj Really? How bizarre. If there is a problem that can be resolved, surely the advice would be 'we can resolve this but it will cost £x and take Y amount of time, do you want to go for that solution or pull out of the purchase?' I have only done odds and sods of conveyancing type work in the context of probate (plus the compulsory training at law school, obviously) but this doesn't sound right to me at all. It may well be that the sensible option for the client is to pull out and seek another property to buy, but as a solicitor it would not be your job to tell them to do this - just to present the options to them with clear information about the implications of each one

Yes, I was a bit shocked by it, but I remember quite clearly in one purchase, I was asked to look over the title deeds, report back on them to a partner, who then scrutinised them himself and told me to compose a letter to the client advising them not to purchase. They also turned down a couple of employment law clients because they didn't like the issues they presented. In general, the mantra was "only accept remunerative work which is easy to fee and likely to succeed". Quite a posh, small - medium sized firm.

I can't see a problem though in a solicitor advising a client not to proceed with a purchase of a property with a serious title dispute. It is surely acting in the best interests of the client.

Then again, I know of one partner in one firm who gives outdated advice, particularly relating to neighbour disputes, giving his clients false hope of success should it end up in court as it sometimes does, and makes lots of fees out of it.

Simply feeling that the client isn't getting a good deal isn't a reason not to act I don't think it was a question of the client getting a good deal, but of not being able to correctly convey the title of the property in question to the client thus giving good title. There are of course ways round this by obtaining relatively cheap indemnity insurance policies and creating a good title when conveying the property which will (hopefully) be "cured" by the prescriptive period in time, but I don't think all solicitors would do that. At least I don't think its negligent not to. Perhaps it is because some firms work on a budget cost fixed rate price for conveyancing based on straightforward work, and simply do not have the resources to handle complex title disputes.

Jux Fri 11-Oct-13 12:36:03

We got our solicitor and our buyer's solicitor into a competition, so they both wanted to be the one to be ready to complete first. 6 weeks.

PeppermintPasty Fri 11-Oct-13 12:39:04

I'm a conveyancing solicitor, and the issue for me is communication. Ours is a local service mainly, although having said that I deal with stuff all over the country on a reasonably regular basis.

Locally, I encourage my clients to come in to the office if they want to, and if time allows, I always see clients who "pop" in, though it sometimes drives me mad. It's just quicker in the long run, and fosters genuinely good relations.

Further afield, it's all about emails and phone calls. I used to be in Litigation, and I had far less client contact there than I do now. But I have learned that contact is what people want when buying or selling their home, so that is what they get.

You must shop around for a good lawyer. Don't believe all the BS that some estate agents come out with when they tell you that you must use their nominated solicitor blah blah. This is likely to be untrue.

All conveyancing solicitors charge a fixed fee. If you return to me, and many do, you will get a discount for coming back. Hell, you'll get a discount if I like you wink. The margins are very very tough, and conveyancing departments used to make fair money in the dim and distant, but not so now. And I apply exactly the same standards to a smaller value sale as I do to a higher one..

I would simply not be able to get away with BS or delay, and why would I want to? I don't need the stress of dealing with an unhappy client. If any of you have complaints-get complaining! Write a letter of complaint to the firm, it has a complaints procedure that it must adhere to, and if it doesn't respond, it is already in breach of the professional rules!!

In my opinion, good local firms have been undercut to the bone by large organisations who employ "fee earners/case handlers" under the guidance and supervision of a qualified solicitor, whilst not being qualified themselves. They are generally in a town or city many miles from where you live and are buying/selling, and they know jack all about the local situation, which can sometimes make the difference between a quick or slow sale.

So, choose carefully, don't be embarrassed about questioning costs, or anything else you're unsure of. Use local solicitors wherever possible, and don't be smooth-talked about the law by an estate agent. They know nort about it!!

pindorasbox Fri 11-Oct-13 12:42:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pindorasbox Fri 11-Oct-13 12:45:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PeppermintPasty Fri 11-Oct-13 12:49:21

I make mistakes, but I never cover them up. If I did that I would lose my practising certificate, and therefore my livelihood. All firms have insurance, that's what it's there for. Obviously better not to make those mistakes but, well, do I need to say it?!

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Fri 11-Oct-13 12:51:26

but solicitors do SELL you houses in Scotland, not just do the conveyancing, and they DO have a duty to disclose facts which might affect the value of the house, ie, a mine nearby, a modern commercial property about to be constructed, a notorious double death...

but as the buyer you are not their client, are you? they are not representing you but they are representing the seller. whose best interest is you don't find any problems.

ILoveTomHardy Fri 11-Oct-13 12:52:45

Peppermint - Couldn't agree more. Our firm charges £400.00 plus VAT for a sale and £450.00 plus VAT for a purchase, plus disbursements obviously (freehold). If it's leasehold then the fees go up by around £100.00 plus VAT for the extra work. These fees are fixed and do not go up or down depending on the value of the house.

When I see what estate agents charge for selling, anywhere between 1.5 and 2% of the sale price it makes me laugh! I used to work at an estate agents and trust me I know who does most of the work on a property transaction. It shouldn't be the estate agents who get the high fees. They aren't the ones who will get sued if the property is defective in some way.

Conveyancing is high risk for any firm of solicitors. Not only are you acting for the client but you are also acting for the lender, which clients often do not realise. Lenders can and will request conveyancing files if they believe that the solicitor is not following protocol, especially if that property has now been repossessed and they are looking for someone to blame.

pindorasbox Fri 11-Oct-13 13:35:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Fri 11-Oct-13 13:49:16

I think this is a real case of the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you phone asking for updates and estimates when the next stage will be reached things are much more likely to go to schedule. If the solicitor isn't answering your calls then a complain is in order. There may be genuine issues for the delays but you have a right to be kept informed about what these are.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Fri 11-Oct-13 13:54:27

pindora sorry you have had a hard time but caveat emptor does seem to apply

pindorasbox Fri 11-Oct-13 14:14:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PeppermintPasty Fri 11-Oct-13 14:19:25

I imagine the Neilssen case was so notorious that this was why it was mentioned. However, there is no legal requirement to do so, at all.

As for the latter case, I may have missed it upthread, and I'm not overly familiar with Scottish Law, but did you complain?

valiumredhead Fri 11-Oct-13 14:35:47

I have only ever dealt with solicitors when buying houses and that is stressful enough, recently though I have had much more dealings with them as they are dealing with my decreased grandparents' estate. Dear God I regularly want to bag my head against brick wall, they are so slow and its been over 3 years.

Sorry about your housesad

valiumredhead Fri 11-Oct-13 14:36:51

Oh just read your post ithaka sounds familiarsad angry

Soupqueen Fri 11-Oct-13 14:37:14

pindora, it's no longer the Law Society of Scotland who investigate complaints. It used to be (and presumably was when you made yours) but is now the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

I'm not sure a solicitor would even know the history of the property (beyond what was in the Title Deeds etc) let alone be required to advise clients on it.

Your second case does sound iffy. I wonder if what the Law Society were getting at was that it was not competent for them to make a finding of professional negligence? They can't, it's not in their remit. Professional negligence must be pursued through the courts. What the Law Society used to be able to consider was Inadequate Professional Service or Professional Misconduct.

florencedombey Fri 11-Oct-13 14:37:48

Peppermint, on the subject of conveyancing fees, I've just recently been involved in a house sale where the estate agent's fee was about £4,000. The conveyancer got £200. Crazy.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Fri 11-Oct-13 14:41:49

pindora it sounds like you have had a tough (and expensive) time.

PeppermintPasty Fri 11-Oct-13 14:44:02

florence, we regularly roll our eyes when the agents' account comes in and say we're all in the wrong job grin

PeppermintPasty Fri 11-Oct-13 14:45:23

oops, stray apostrophe.

LightSky Fri 11-Oct-13 15:33:36

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

What DeepFriedSage said. Wow!

pindorasbox Fri 11-Oct-13 16:06:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jux Fri 11-Oct-13 16:37:37

I did work for a solicitor once - admin stuff only. If a client contacted us by any means - phone, email, letter, another solicitor - then I pulled the file out of the cabinet and put it on his desk, and he dealt with it that day. Clients who didn't contact us, well, their files just stayed in the cabinet.

TBF, he always worked late, sometimes until 10ish, and took lunch at his desk.

mrsmalcolmreynolds Fri 11-Oct-13 16:39:50

Are the two posts above meant to imply that solicitors are in the profession because they are power crazed and see it as an opportunity to do people over?

If so that's a breathtakingly ignorant and ill-informed generalisation. The days of solicitors being viewed as the word of God are IME over. I've been in practice for 10 years and am completely clear that my job and professional responsibility are to provide a service to, and act in the best interests of, my clients.

And with regard to the OP, I practice in a particular area of the law precisely because it has an impact on individuals' lives and I wanted to be involved in helping to get that done right.

Be angry about bad service by all means, but don't call my personal integrity into question by making lazy generalisations.

PeppermintPasty Fri 11-Oct-13 16:41:43

deepfriedsage-there I was thinking naively that I would become a solicitor to help people it certainly wasn't to earn a lot of money when in fact it's because I am power crazed!!

A nice soundbite, but woefully inaccurate imo.

PeppermintPasty Fri 11-Oct-13 16:42:42

x post -hurrah mrsmalcolm, hurrah.

ILoveTomHardy Fri 11-Oct-13 16:44:19

Jux - exactly. I have five four drawer filing cabinets in my room. These are all full with files. If a client rings, emails or writes or if we receive any correspondence from a solicitor or another party then that is a reason for getting that file out of the cabinet. There is just no other system for looking at current files. You write to someone, the file goes back in the cabinet. They write back, or ring, the file comes out of the cabinet. Not a perfect system but it works most of the time. You are reliant on other people responding to correspondence though.

mrsmalcolmreynolds Fri 11-Oct-13 16:44:35

Peppermint smile

bunnybing Fri 11-Oct-13 16:56:37

OP - We had a v similar problem selling a house - our solicitor remedied it quite quickly.

What I was going to say was that we had used the same solicitor in the buying of that house and, because he had failed to spot the error the first time around, he didn't charge us for his work. We didn't push for this at the time (no idea that we could)- he just pointed out that it had been his error and he'd been negligent - in other words we could have sued him for failing to do his job properly (although it was a 30 yr old house at the time so other solicitors had also missed the issue).

Could this apply to you??

ohnoherewego Fri 11-Oct-13 16:59:27

ILoveTomHardy; you are kidding right? Do you not have a case management system? Even back in the day when I did my training we used a paper diary to carry forward reminders and to do lists so no file got overlooked and we were proactive rather that reactive. Please tell me it's a wind up!

pindorasbox Fri 11-Oct-13 17:25:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 11-Oct-13 17:42:56

Jux - exactly. I have five four drawer filing cabinets in my room. These are all full with files. If a client rings, emails or writes or if we receive any correspondence from a solicitor or another party then that is a reason for getting that file out of the cabinet. There is just no other system for looking at current files. You write to someone, the file goes back in the cabinet. They write back, or ring, the file comes out of the cabinet. Not a perfect system but it works most of the time. You are reliant on other people responding to correspondence though.

This, right here, is what we are all talking about. No duty of care, no system for ensuring that you are doing a good job - rather you are relying on clients to drive their own case forward. Pretty disgraceful.

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 11-Oct-13 17:55:49


How do you propose it is done then? As you clearly know better.

You understand solicitors have more than one client and need all of those clients explicit instructions and authority before taking action at every step of the way surely? That some clients matters may become more pressing and urgent than yours?

At the end of the day it is your case, why shouldn't you be the driving force for action?

The amount of clients who are desperate to bring action but are, for example, incapable of signing and returning forms is ridiculous.

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 11-Oct-13 17:58:18


Surely you chase up letters you've sent? You can't seriously just send letters/documents and hope for the best? hmm

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 11-Oct-13 18:01:28


refer yourself to your second post for an answer to your question to me.

PeppermintPasty Fri 11-Oct-13 18:03:25

I feel moved to point out that whatever your case management system, whether paper driven or computerised, it's success depends entirely on the person or persons inputting the information.
We don't have a computerised cms, but we do have incredibly able staff, legally qualified or otherwise, who well know how to push on and process cases.
Plus of course, our professional rules oblige us to be properly supervised. I am supervised by a partner, who is supervised in turn by someone else.

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 11-Oct-13 18:05:30


That'll teach me not to RTFT grin

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 11-Oct-13 18:06:03


Alisvolatpropiis Fri 11-Oct-13 18:06:13

Ffs. To not comment without. I think my brain just stopped functioning.

motherinferior Fri 11-Oct-13 18:11:53

To return to the charming generalisation of your thread title, yes they do. My sister got out of the law after one too many legal aid cases defending women who'd lost custody of their children or had cigarettes stubbed out on their faces. She and her fellow partners were paid a pittance, too.

If you mean 'solicitors dealing with conveyancing' perhaps you should spell that out? There are quite a few different types of solicitor, you know.

grovel Fri 11-Oct-13 18:15:44

My experiences with Probate and Conveyancing solicitors have been universally ghastly.

PeppermintPasty Fri 11-Oct-13 18:36:52

gah I did not put that other apostrophe in my last post either!!!! Bloody phone.

<pedantic and off topic. No doubt typical of all bloody dreadful solicitors>

Mrsdavidcaruso Fri 11-Oct-13 18:44:28

In my case as I said my solicitor waiting for the freeholders solicitor for THREE WEEKS to fax a letter and did nothing that was proactive.

They had the freeholders details but did nothing to alert the freeholder to say that his solicitor was not doing his job.

I took me 5 minutes to google the freeholder and although the address was not on record his accountant was.

My solicitor told me that contacting the accountant would not work and they would not do it, so I did it myself and as I said a fax was sent in under 3 hours.

I did my solicitors job for him and still had to pay him

mrsmalcolmreynolds Fri 11-Oct-13 19:17:33

Pinfold my post was in response to yours insofar as you appeared to be unequivocally supporting deepfriedsage's implication that solicitors are in the profession for the power it brings and to abuse that power. Your subsequent post is a great deal more nuanced and I agree with quite a lot of what you say.

IMO acting as a solicitor, if done properly, should (to paraphrase Marvel comics) be a case of "with great responsibility comes very little power". My job is to act on behalf of and in the best interests of my clients ( which includes being pro-active and following up without needing to be chased by them) but in return I get only the power that comes from being their trusted adviser - there should be no aura of "I'm a lawyer therefore my word goes" or anything like it. And if you are conscientious, the greater the trust placed in you by your clients, the greater the sense of personal responsibility.

mrsmalcolmreynolds Fri 11-Oct-13 19:19:13

Pindora not Pinfold - sorry not sure where that came from!

skaen Fri 11-Oct-13 19:31:48

I'm a solicitor. Given the astonishing regularity with which my clients completely ignore my advice, I'm certainly not in a position of power!

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 11-Oct-13 19:38:32


Probate is a fairly difficult area of law to make a pleasant experience due to it's nature. Feeling the solicitors aren't the best no doubt compounds it.

Sorry you have had unpleasant experiences at already difficult times.

TiredFeet Fri 11-Oct-13 19:41:06

As this thread has become generalised now, I just have to say, I am a solicitor although in-house in a specialised area. We recently appointed a conveyancing solicitor and dh was moaning when I explained the likely timescales for the transaction, as he couldn't see how it needed to take that long. But then when we got the paperwork I did my bit and put it all there for him to look through and he just sat ignoring it! He couldn't see the connection between him delaying looking at the paperwork and the length of the transaction! Ffs! So yes, if you want your matter progressing, send back paperwork etc asap and also chase regularly for updates. If they don't respond then of course escalate and complain to their manager, don't just sit around for weeks wondering! There are some rubbish solicitors of course, but I also come across lots of very conscientious ones.

PeppermintPasty Fri 11-Oct-13 19:45:12

Nailed it again mrsmalcolm. And good point skaen. Exactly right!!

ohnoherewego Fri 11-Oct-13 20:37:29

I just don't accept that the majority of solicitors are reactive rather than proactive, not least because it would be just such an incredibly stressful way of working. Stress rises when you have little control over your day. It is considerably less if you are pro active and progress matters. Why would anyone want to piss off their clients so much there was no joy in the relationship and they just rang up and shouted at them? I am amazed. I have 20 plus years PQE in both large and small firms and have run large departments. I have never met anyone who was purely reactive apart from a couple who were not coping with life generally because of outside stressors.

Twilightsparklesmama Fri 11-Oct-13 20:50:20

I know it's been answered but in response to the point about interest, we are subject to very strict rules regarding money. The SRA accounts rules provide that solicitors must account to clients for interest where it is fair and reasonable to do so. Previous rules allowed solicitors to keep amounts below £20, the firm must have a written policy on interest. In my firm money to be held for a long period is kept in a seperate deposit account all interest is paid to the client. If its kept for a short period in client account our systems do an interest calculation which we pay to clients.

TiredFeet Fri 11-Oct-13 22:35:57

Totally agree with you ohno and I seem to spend far more time chasing clients for stuff than vice versa. But equally I think it is fair to advise people to take ownership of their matters and if they have got a solicitor who doesn't appear to do much then to do something about it. Also I think it is important for people to realise their role in keeping things moving; dh couldn't seem to grasp the connection between him sitting on paperwork and the transaction moving slowly...

Fleta Sat 12-Oct-13 15:23:18

I'm a solicitor and a Conveyancer.

I am good at my job. But you do realise the amount of time I become the subject of vile abuse because of things outside my control?

For example, clients moving in and rubbish hasn't been cleared, items being taken that were supposed to be left.

I treat each and every one of my clients properly. And IME there is absolutely not such thing as "just a boundary issue"

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