Does anyone have any advice how to deal with a lawyer which hasn't been fair ? My friend used a lawyer to help reclaim a lot of money she was owed which had sent her into debt through no fault of her own. The lawyer mentioned his costs on the phone and she didn't get it written unfortunately but when he managed to get the money for her he has just taken many thousands more as his frees and without permission .
Is there anything my friend can do? There must be a body which checks legal standards or something? It sounds like he behaved unprofessionally in other ways too and taken advantage of her veibg vulnerable
She can speak to the solicitors regulation authority - they will be able to advise on what he should /shouldn't have done and anything she needs to do to complain. Certainly solicitors are meant to provide a clear explanation of the basis on which they charge.
The solicitor would have sent her an engagement letter and it would set out the terms of business. It would also give an initial estimate and charging rates (per hour) and which type of lawyer would be dealing and who any complaints should be made to.
So often I hear of people saying they weren't made aware of rates etc and how it worked but when I mention this type of letter they then say oh yes I got one of those but didn't read it.
Before going off to the Solicitors regulation Authority your friend should complain to a Partner in the firm if the solicitor wasn't a partner or the Senior Partner (if she really did not get an engagement letter) and exhaust complaints procedure in the firm first.
If she is vulnerable is she sure that the initial quote wasn't just for the initial letter and the costs are higher because he had to issue proceedings or something like that?
Also if he was charging on a time basis if the person who he was collecting the debt from raised queries etc the costs would go up if he ended up having to take further instructions etc from your friend.
Right. So this is something that should be in her client care letter. Does she still have hers? It's possible that she just misunderstood for example if she was on a DBA agreement. If she reads through her cc letter and cannot figure it out then she should get in touch with him asking for an explanation (on paper). She can then go to the SRA if she still doesn't understand where the fees came from. My first inclination would be to say that he has done wrong (sounds like he took the money from the client funds account) or she just doesn't understand the fees that she agreed.