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AIBU - do I have to pay this bill?

(47 Posts)
Mindblowninbrisvegas Sun 09-Dec-18 23:59:02

Around 2 years ago I lost my sister. I was the executor of her will. Due to a few issues dealing with the estate took quite some time. Halfway through the case the solicitor in charge moved firms. She had been personally recommended to me and I liked her so asked if I could transfer the case to her new office. I paid the bill from the first firm and transferred my file. She carried on dealing with the case and everything was finished and resolved.

After around six months the first firm got in touch and told me that I owe them around £1000. They said that the first solicitor had done something that she was not authorised to do and that they had had to do work behind-the-scenes to correct her error. It was acknowledged that all of the work charged was done after I had changed firms and asked them not to do further work on my behalf as I was changing solicitors. They have also admitted that the work done was to protect themselves as a firm and not to assist either me or my sister’s estate.

I refused to pay the bill and had nothing further.

Now almost two years later I have been contacted again and the first firm are threatening to sue me unless I pay a bill of more than £1000. I don’t have the money to pay this bill but I am very worried about being sued. I am a single mum to 2 small children and don’t have the time, energy or money to fight a legal case.

Am I being unreasonable in not wanting to pay this bill?

pumpkinpie01 Mon 10-Dec-18 00:02:37

Have they provided a detailed breakdown of exactly what this bill is for ?

PurpleWithRed Mon 10-Dec-18 00:03:39

I don’t know and I’m afraid you are going to have to get legal advice, but I can’t see how they can charge you for work that was their employee’s fault and that they didn’t discuss with you first.

garethsouthgatesmrs Mon 10-Dec-18 00:04:11

you need legal advice

fuzzywuzzy Mon 10-Dec-18 00:05:08

Do you still have the correspondence saying the work done was not for your benefit but theirs and was done after you left?

All I know is that solicitors firms will not release your files for transfer to another firm until you’ve paid in full their outstanding invoice.

I’d remind them that they have told you the work was carried out after you left and had stopped instructing anyobe in their firm and that you settled the final invoice at the time and any work carried out thereafter was not done under your authorisation or agreement nor for your benefit. I’d also contact the SRA and forward all information to them and say your being pursued and harassed by this firm for something that is not your responsibility

Pumpkintopf Mon 10-Dec-18 00:05:30

Could you perhaps refer to your solicitor (who you moved firms for) for some (hopefully free) advice, as she was the person involved?

Zeb81 Mon 10-Dec-18 00:07:36

You need to contact the Law Society or SRA depending on where you are

Mindblowninbrisvegas Mon 10-Dec-18 00:10:53

Unfortunately after so long I haven’t got any of the correspondence anymore as I thought it had ‘gone away’ .

Can’t get hold of nice Solicitor as she has retired.

Second firm admits in recent letter that I said ‘please don’t do any more work’ but is ademant that they had to do additional work to ‘cover themselves’ and that I have to pay for it.

Panicking a bit now. Suggestion of calling SRA is a good one.

thumpingrug Mon 10-Dec-18 00:16:44

Tell them, that any work they did was not authorised by you and therefore you deny any liability. tell them to take it up with their former employee if it was an error on that persons part.

Perch Mon 10-Dec-18 00:27:32

Could you ask them about their complaints procedure and lodge a formal complaint?
Law Society?

SofiaAmes Mon 10-Dec-18 00:31:26

Yes to "lodge a formal complaint with the Law Society." You have no contract with them and therefore they had no right to do work on your behalf and it's harassment for them to be bugging you to pay for work that you didn't contract for.

FenellasRedVelvetDress Mon 10-Dec-18 00:58:14

Surely they should be pursuing the ( retired) solicitor who did something unorthorised? I don’t see how it can be your responsibility to pay this . Why should you have to pay for someone else’s mistake simply because they were working on your behalf.
As other posters have said, contact the law society.
I would also contact your local citizens advice too and see if they have any lawyers who could advise you what to do.
In the meantime I would be tempted to a) try and contact nice but retired solicitor to advise her - she may not like being blamed for something (You only have the old firms word that she did something wrong) And b) I would write to the law firm acknowledging receipt of their letter and state that since they advised you on ( xx/xx/xxxx date) that this work was carried out after you had finished with their services and had paid your final bill and that by their admittance this work was done to protect them because of a mistake a former employee had made you fail to see why they feel you are responsible for the costs incurred. I would also write that you are contacting the law society and a lawyer for advice with this and since you are a single mum with two small children on a limited income it may take you some time to find out your legal position and you request sufficient time to do so taking into account the time of year and your financial position.

Maybe someone will be along to say don’t write to them but I think that - in the event of them having a legal leg to stand on - if it gets as far as court the fact that you have asked for time , and acknowledged their letter and said that you are seeking advice will go against them.
Who is a judge going to favour - a grabby law firm who are trying to sue a working single parent for their mistake or the single mum who has shown that she is trying to sort this matter out and not just ignore it.

Keep copies of every letter you receive and don’t phone them - only communicate by letter/email. They might just trip themselves up .

PyongyangKipperbang Mon 10-Dec-18 01:10:38

They're trying it on.

She cost them money and they are trying to get it back by putting the frighteners on you. Anything she did that was wrong is a HR issue and nothing whatsoever to do with you. You didnt instruct her to do her job incorrectly, you didnt instruct them to "cover themselves", you paid up what they said you owed before your case was transferred.

They dont have a leg to stand on, they're just hoping you dont know that.

Marcipex Mon 10-Dec-18 01:13:59

Message the mumset team, and ask for your post to be moved to Legal.
I'd think the law firm haven't a leg to stand on myself.

Monty27 Mon 10-Dec-18 01:16:54

Report them to the law society. Greedy bastards. angry

expat101 Mon 10-Dec-18 01:33:22

The 2nd law firm will still have the records of the case, someone else should be able to take a look at it for you and see if its right or not.

Racecardriver Mon 10-Dec-18 01:39:07

They aren’t allowed to do work for you if you have terminated your retainer. Have a drink. Get yourself a tiny bit angry. Then call them and tell them that you will report them to the SRA for carrying out unauthorised work if they don’t desist immediately. If they don’t stop then get a solicitor. Make sure you get a good one this time. There is no reason why you should pay. They know this and are trying it on.

Racecardriver Mon 10-Dec-18 01:39:55

You know what, don’t even bother calling them. Call up the SRA instead. They will be scared shitless when they get a call from the SRA.

Whyarealltheusernamestaken Mon 10-Dec-18 01:46:57

I don’t know the full story or legal side, although I know this can be intimidating. When I went through a divorce my solicitors somehow “lost” my paperwork so I went elsewhere as they were incompetent. I then got a huge bill from the previous ones, I had to complain a lot until they eventually wrote this off. I did wonder how many people they got to pay in these cases though. Stay strong and fight

Barchester Mon 10-Dec-18 01:59:22

I am a solicitor who does Probate work.

If this firm decided to do some work to "cover their back" because of errors on the part of the nice solicitor, it has nothing to do with you. They did whatever it was to protect themselves and is the sort of work that a proper firm would take as its own responsibility with the time taken in doing so being written off. It is not your responsibility to pay for it.

I get very annoyed at firms like this trying on this kind of stunt and hoping that a less well informed former lay client will pay. A business client would immediately tell them to get lost but they would undoubtedly not try it on with a business client. You should definitely report them to the SRA and the Legal Ombudsman, as this sort of sharp practice should be investigated.

If they had the stupidity to take the matter to Court, a judge would find in your favour. They know this but hope that you don't.

Do not pay and report them to the SRA.

Vivaldi1678 Mon 10-Dec-18 02:23:50

I don't see how they can charge you for work carried out without your authorisation and after the retainer was terminated. I would write to the senior partner in the first instance in strong terms and making it clear that you will be reporting them to the SRA if they do not drop their claim immediately.

RebootYourEngine Mon 10-Dec-18 04:48:42

They are CFs. They did work that you didn't ask them to do and they now want you to pay for it.

BlackRibboner Mon 10-Dec-18 05:23:02

While you should report any dodgy practices to the SRA, for mediation of complaints and resolution of individual issues you need the Legal Ombudsman - www.legalombudsman.org.uk/?portfolio=complaint-form-legal

Hope you can get it sorted.

sashh Mon 10-Dec-18 05:56:45

As the employer at the time surely they are responsible for their employees actions.

Agree with legal advice (I have it through my home insurance) but it will probably be worth asking for a disclosure of all the data they have on you.

You gave them your personal data for a set task, they have used it for something else.

TheOxymoron Mon 10-Dec-18 07:51:59

This is tricky. If her will was with the solicitors firm, the solicitor had no right walking away with the case. It didn’t belong to her personally.
Get some legal advice OP and good luck.

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