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Solicitor has messed up ET what can I do?(18 Posts)
A long story short.
I was pursuing a constructive dismissal claim of my ex employer via my insurance company with a solicitor appointed by the insurance company.
The case was struck out of court because my solicitor failed to exchange witness statements in time, I found this out by contacting the court direct my solicitor did not give this information.
The solicitor asked me to let them try to get the case reinstated which I did but they did not do it in time so the case will never be heard now, my ex employer has gotten away with what they did because of their incompetence. I received a letter from the court telling me the things the solicitor failed to do which I find shocking it seems she didn't respond to numerous requests by the court.
I would expect my solicitor to offer some compensation for the two years of stress and a very unsatisfactory outcome but I had a letter from them today suggesting I should seek legal advice as they consider the matter closed - can they do this? What can I do? Should the insurance company take it further?
Please help if you can I'm feeling very stressed by all of this.
I would contact the oversight body for solicitors:not sure what it is called but you can google it. Explain you have documentary evidence from court re negligence. They have a statutory duty to tell you next appropriate steps.
Ask for complaints procedure and formal complaint to complaints partner
If not satisfactory response then escalate to Legal ombudsman - you have to exhaust internal process first - you can be awarded compensation
You could also take legal advice about a claim for professional negligence but it may be expensive and you may want to see what you are offered in complaints / legal ombudsman process first
It sounds very serious and the Legal
ombudsman may refer the complaint to the SRA who could sanction your solicitor - you may also be able to make a direct referral. The SRA can't give you compensation but may take disciplinary action against your solicitor for breaching code of conduct.
Wow, that's appalling. I am so sorry! Nothing to add to Family's advice.
Have you contacted the senior partner with your complaint? You need to go through the firm’s own complaints process before going to the SRA.
You need to seek further legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in professional negligence. Had your ET solicitor given you advice in relation to the prospects of success of your case? If you won had they advised you as to how much compensation you would have received? Contact them to let them know you are seeking advice and then seek that advice.
Wow thank you so much for your responses I am unable to sleep for worrying about it, I will give my insurance company 24 hours to try to deal with it and if they don't I will raise the formal complaint anyhow.
Babbit they told me I would get the equivalent of a redundancy payment from my ex employer, about £5k, it is so gutting not just the money but my ex employer never had to answer to what they did and the last two years this has been hanging over me, my solicitor lied about receiving the judgement but the court sent me a copy date stamped 15 June that was sent to her I can't believe they can get away with this.
I guess another solicitor is going to charge me more than I could really afford.
Check your insurance policy and see if you have prof neg insurance. If not insured, or insurers won't cover, look to other solicitors who should do it on a no win, no fee. I really wouldn't bother going through the complaints process. Once you let them know you are taking advice they may make you an offer, but I really think you should take advice before accepting. On the basis of what you have said I would not be too trusting about advice you have been given to date in respect of the value of your claim. I have to say this sounds outrageous (and i have been in practice for 23 years).
Definitely contact the legal ombudsmen. They will advise but you need to show them you will pursue it. They'll likely settle out of court if they think you're serious, they're banking on you not having the energy to pursue it. You deserve compensation! I'm do sorry you're going through this. Some solicitors are completely incompetent.
You may not need another solicitor. All solicitors firms have an insurance policy for things such as this. I would complain to the managing partner in the first instance and say that you will elevate to the legal ombudsman in the event of an unsatisfactory response. I suspect they will give you your £5k from their insurance to make this go away. Otherwise go straight to LO which you can do without a solicitor. Best of luck!
I work at the Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales and you can complain to us about poor service by a regulated legal service provider.
This has more details on how we can help and get things started: www.legalombudsman.org.uk/helping-the-public/
If you aren't sure about anything, call our assessment centre on 0300 555 0333.
Hope that helps,
Thanks for you responses all. It is much appreciated from a practical and emotional point of view. Do you think the case could be brought again by another solicitor or is is struck out for good I guess the respondent would refuse?
My guess and it would be a guess is you have missed the deadlines which is why you will take action against the solicitor. You really need to get on with that and approach the ombudsman now as documented below.
Those solicitors who you get through your insurance don't take on cases unless they are highly likely to win. That in itself suggests you have a strong case here against the solicitor and they will probably pay out. Unfortunately your previous employer will get away with it but at least you'll have your money.
I am a lawyer although in a different field. My (somewhat educated) guess is that the claim would have been struck out after the solicitor failed to show up for the hearing in which they first applied to have it reinstated, and cannot now be resurrected.
You might be able to apply to the court to have it reinstated on the (exceptional) grounds that your lawyer was negligent in failing to pursue the claim, but it would be costly and it sounds as though you have a good claim in negligence to recover the value of the claim and your costs to date from the original solicitor. The downside is that you won't get your "day in court" with your ex-employer. I would take the money.
However, your solicitor's response sounds very odd. Are you sure it was sent on behalf of the firm? What is their explanation for the error? In this type of case I would expect the firm's PI partner to be falling on his/her sword tbh. Things go wrong in legal transactions and that is why we have insurance, but this seems like an embarrassingly bad screw-up, twice. Is the letter from the complaints partner or the solicitor who screwed up? (I have seen and indeed received (!) letters from solicitors who have screwed up and are digging a bigger hole by trying to keep it under wraps....)
When a solicitor sends you a letter saying you need to seek legal advice from another solicitor in respect of a case they handled for you it is their way of explaining but not saying outright that you have a potential negligence claim against them.
If the amount of your original claim was approximately £5,000 it is highly likely that this will fall within their excess on their insurance.
In your initial terms of engagement letter it should state a complaints procedure. Write to the person mentioned in that explaining that you hold them liable for the fact that the case was struck out and ask what financial recompense they intend to make to you.
It seems to be a fairly clear cut case and I suspect they will then make an offer to you based on what you should have been able to claim in the original case. If they make an offer then it may be worth asking another solicitor to look at whether the offer is fair and asking the original negligent firm to cover the cost of this advice too.
Are you sure the insurer used solicitors? Sometimes they use non-legally qualified employment advisos, so woulsn't be covered by SRA. Check out who insurers used and complain to insurer as well.
Thanks again for all the responses
@Lostmymojo - The response was sent from the solicitors firms technical department but not the solicitor herself, my insurer has since lodged a formal complaint and has given them 14 days to investigate and send me a response. They have not explained the error, I don't think there is much they can say because the court has outlined the failures of the solicitor involved and there is no real excuse for what they did (or didn't do in this case). It is a bad screw up, I have been looking online and can find lots of complaints about them on different forums and my solicitors details have been removed from their website, bit odd? I did get an apology letter from the solicitor but the new letter is from the complaints team.
@Giverortakeafew - I do have the details of the solicitors that they used, my main correspondence was only with them until it all started to go wrong then I referred it back to the insurance company, if it doesn't reach a satisfactory conclusion I will definitely complain to the insurance ombudsman (I used to work in insurance so I know how to contact them etc.
My insurance company genuinely seem to want to resolve it and seem unhappy with the solicitor as much as me. Only another week and a half to wait in a two year process!!! I can't think of anything else they can say to drag it out further but they never fail to surprise me!
Thanks again everyone, have a nice weekend x
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