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Disappointed with Legal Service provided by home insurance - is this normal?

(4 Posts)
heyDiddleyHiDiddleyHiDiddleyHo Fri 17-May-13 21:57:42

Just that really. I was wondering if my experience is normal or as sub standard as I feel it is.

I have been going through a claim for unfair dismissal as I was made redundant on my first day back from maternity leave and really felt I had evidence of discrimination (along with a nice trail of evidence of dodgey treatment during pregnancy). My home insurance paid for £50k legal cover but only if i used their contacted out legal service. Which I duly did.

Basically I had to give a summary of my claim to the legal sevice which was then sat on for 2 months and wasn't reviewed or dealt with at all until 3pm on the day the deadline for submitting a claim to an employment tribunal expired, then my summary of reasons for claiming was just copied and pasted into an ET1 and I was called to say I had 20mins to review it before it had to be submitted! My solicitor judged I met the 51% or greater chance of success criteria for them to act at that point but advised a barrister would give a firmer opinion in due course.

I had sought preliminary legal advice on being made redundant at my own expense before contacting my home insurers and the solicitor I saw then was excellent and did nothing but ask loads of questions and ask what sort of evidence I had. So I was really shocked that there was no dialogue at all from the firm progressing my claim.

The ET3 was received 1month later and I reviewed and commented that there were inaccuracies and really insufficient responses within it but this was never picked up.

The Tribunal asked how many witnesses would be called and my solicitor referred this query straight to me asking me for a number...I had no clue, surely it depends on the case and what evidence you need to demonstrate. I felt this was a decision my solicitor should determine or at least provide firm guidance on. They advised I should call one witness - myself. I was really stunned by this. It didn't seem to me that they were acting to present the best case possible for me. I expressed this concern on the phone.

There was then a pause for 2 months until my ex employer's solicitor contacted my solicitor to explore settling prior to the tribunal. My solicitor then hurriedly put together a schedule of loss totally underestimating my losses and quoting basic info such as salary incorrectly - which I then had to spend a lot of time correcting. Again I was given really unreasonable deadlines to respond to my solicitor.

I asked for more detail on the strength of my case, which wasn't forthcoming. Basically I feel the solicitor didnt want to spend any time on the case, they just wanted to settle as soon as possible.

A settlement offer was made at 10:30 this morning with the usual pressure to accept applied along with a deadline of 3pm. My solicitor called about 12pm to tell me. I felt the offer was on the low side and knowing my ex employers methods I suggested a counter offer nudging a little higher. I was told that under no circumstances would a higher counter offer be proposed on my behalf and that i must either accept the offer or seek new representation at my own expense.

Again I requested advice on the strength of my case so I could make an informed decision on whether the offer was reasonable. Again, I wasn't given an answer but was told the offer received was a reasonable. I requested written confirmation that my solicitor was advising it was in my best interests to accept the offer - which I sort of got and accepted the offer on this basis. I was then bullied along to tie up all the loose ends within 30 mins of accepting! Amazing...

I just feel that my solicitor was only acting in the interests of minimising their costs rather than presenting the best case for me. They hadn't asked for any of the supporting evidence or even really discussed the case with me so they really couldn't have had a handle on the prospects of the case.

Do solicitors have a duty to protect their client's interests or is it normal for them to only act to minimise their costs?

Have I been treated poorly, or does this sound normal for this type of claim dealt with through a home insurance policy?

Thanks for reading if you got this far!

Collaborate Sat 18-May-13 06:03:15

You've had a really poor service.

The solicitors got the insurance contract because they submitted the lowest bid. They will be paid very little for acting for you. They therefore will have a business model that means they've got paralegals dealing with your case, if you're fortunate overseen by a solicitor. You've received no advice.

They are relying on you not bothering to sue them for negligent advice for the sake of getting an extra £5k of compensation.

What you can do though is complain to them. Say that you have received an "inadequate professional service" (that wording is quite important -see the link below). See what they say, and if you don't like their response, take their complaints procedure to the final stage, after which you can make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman of Inadequate Professional Service. They can award you compensation. Have a look at this

What you have had a taste of is what criminal justice will become if Grayling gets his way; anyone charged with an offence will get a similar service to what you've just had, and when they've introduced it for crime, all other legal aid services will be drawn in to the same "lowest bidder gets the work" contract.

Please, please, please, if you have the time, or if you care at all about justice, look at this

and sign the petition. Ask others to sign it too.

And good luck with your complaint.

heyDiddleyHiDiddleyHiDiddleyHo Sat 18-May-13 09:58:13

Many thanks collaborate.

I am really passionate about having a fair and effective justice system so will be signing the petition. Shocking that this could be the future...

Thanks again.

Collaborate Sat 18-May-13 11:45:54

I know...Eddie Stobart will be bidding for one of the contracts. That fill anyone with hope or pride?

Group4 too. They are also bidding for police work. Obv no conflict of interest in them being paid to catch criminals, then defend them, then lock them up.

Simply shocking.

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