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a solicitors firm, an 'iffy' shortfall/charge & our sorry tale

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We bought our current home in November 1987.

Sometime later, the Conveyancing Solicitor we used informed us that he had made an error in the handling of our money and,

as a consequence of that he claimed there was a shortfall of a sum of money that should have been paid on our behalf to a third party.

We had no reason other than to assume that the Solicitor had attended to all money matters and settlements during the conveyance etc.

We fully expected the services he offered to have been conducted ethically and professionally, with trust and confidence,

as one would expect from a professional firm of Solicitors.

Whilst we felt the firm may have been professionally negligent, the Solicitor failed to provide us with a breakdown of the shortfall justifying the amount claimed and continually declined to do so.

Sometime elapsed and then telephone calls commenced from the solicitor to our home.

The Solicitor placed my wife under regular pressure in a condescending way, always by telephone and at all times in the evening,

asking her to pay him this money which we could not afford at that time.

He would not accept calls at his office.

She felt intimidated and threatened by his oppressive attitude.

She offered to pay by instalments, but strangely, he would not accept cheques payable to the firm.

To avoid any further action, he instructed her to make weekly payments by cash or postal orders only,

payable to him by name and to send them to a PO Box address in Berkshire.

Reluctantly and unwisely as we became afraid of him and in some distress, we did what he requested from January 1988 for a considerably long time,

but failed to receive receipts for our payments regardless of many requests over a long period.

We decided in May 1989, we would cease payments to him as no receipts were forthcoming from him.

We both became suspicious that our payments are not being officially recorded; especially as most of the payments were cash and he and

possibly the firm may be acting dishonestly.

He telephoned my wife with reference to cessation of payments.

She informed him we would continue to make further regular payments provided we received official acknowledgment receipts for the payments

previously paid, along with the future payments as they were made.

He made similar calls to us over a few months, but he would still not provide receipts. We failed to receive receipts from the firm.

In March 1990, he contacted my wife again with threatening, aggressive conduct and effectively manipulated and forced us to sign a

document titled 'Legal Charge'.

He claimed the firm provided us with a 'loan' and it has been registered on our property since March 1990.

We are now of the opinion that the conduct and actions here described by a partner

or partners of a firm of Solicitors were not in keeping with and may be in breach of the Solicitors Act 1974.

The regulated person or persons abused their position of authority or trust.

The amount of money mentioned on the document to be paid to the partners of the firm did not allow for the many payments

we had already made over the preceding period, nor were we given a breakdown of the amount shown or how it had been compiled or calculated.

We asked the local Solicitor in his office who held the document that we were seeing for the first time about the content and what it means,

only to be told that he cannot advise us, we would need to raise the matter with the firm.

With the benefit of hindsight and naivety, irrespective of his condescending attitude and hostility towards us and his threatening intensions,

we were clearly wrong in signing this document before seeking advice.

We were denied any form of negotiated terms, consent, or benefit in signing the document, only to be coerced verbally in agreeing to sign,

and in doing so, only then, we were told the charge is for a fixed amount and we would not incur any further action or telephone calls or

further accrued interest charges provided we sign it.

We naively assumed as a firm of legal professionals we were being told the truth.

Should there have been a duty of care or moral obligation to provide impartial advice and guidance to ensure we had a thorough

understanding of this undertaking to form a proper judgement?

The partners of the firm being Solicitors surely had a duty of care to advise and ensure we the clients, had taken independent legal advice,

are in a position to make informed decisions about the services we need, how their matter will be handled and the options available to them

before proceeding to procure our signatures on the contract.

Surely then, we would have reached an informed decision.

We now believe we were prejudiced upon, by the unprofessional actions adopted by this firm and used.

Which was unfair and, that they failed to satisfy themselves that the content and transaction had been properly

and clearly explained by independent legal advisors.

This led to an unfair advantage being taken and induced by undue influence and pressure.

We have good reason to believe the action and conduct here given, could be tantamount to fraud, dishonesty and misconduct.

We have tried to locate the firm to try and discuss the matter but have been advised by the regulating authority

that the firm of ceased trading on the 1st June 1990, just weeks after this action.

We have not been contacted regarding this matter since 1990.

The Solicitor who handled this matter, was or became bankrupt more than once and following a hearing on a matter(s) of the Solicitors Act 1974,

was struck off for offences of dishonesty, deception, fraud and criminal offences.

At the time of this tribunal, it was noted he was serving a previous suspended prison sentence.

There were two additional partners in the firm, have both incurred disciplinary retribution by tribunal for separate breach of regulatory matters

contrary to the Solicitors Act 1974.

One found guilty of unbefitting conduct regarding client matters and unpaid interest payments on clients’ accounts.

He failed to comply with a professional undertaking and also failed to provide explanations or to respond to letters from the Solicitors Complaints Bureau.

During his Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, it was noted that he was restricted to practising in approved employment.

The third partner, failed to keep and present audited accountant’s reports for a number of years.

Both were reprimanded and ordered to pay costs.

This, to the best of our knowledge is a true statement of the facts.

In view of how this matter was conducted and the contentious issues here stated,

we still hold all three named partners/proprietors accountable and seek disciplinary action for fraud, dishonesty, conduct and behaviour.

During November of this year, 2012, we have been bitterly disappointed to learn, having the content of the charge explained to us

by our Solicitor that interest has been accruing on the amount stated.

Clearly we were misled intentionally and that no valuable consideration was provided to us in return for the security offered

by signing what may be construed as a voluntary charge.

Given the circumstances, we would be grateful to have the charge dismissed/removed.

Any advice or direction would be most grateful.

Sorry and thanks for reading such a long story.

Edited by citizenB

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In view of the fact that the Solicitor was struck off (and presumably never resumed practising) and the firm is no more, you should not be too optimistic here.

 

However, the first port of call should be a formal, written complaint to the Law Society, which regulated solicitors at the time and would have full details of the investigations that led to their striking him off. Include all the information above but try to structure your letter into sections outlining the outset of the problem, the ongoing threats and harrassment, as much as you can remember about the scale and date of the losses, what you tried to do about it at the time and what you want done now.

 

The solicitor should also have had professional indemnity insurance and you would turn to them with a view to compensating your losses. However, it would hardly be surprising if he didn't comply with that requirement either, so finding someone to stand for the losses now could be difficult. Even if you could find him personally, it would be a slow process as you'd have to sue him personally. However, be aware that bankruptcy does not write off debts that arise as a result of fraud, so don't be put off by that.

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Not sure what you asking advice on?

Is somebody still chasing you for money? have they got a judgement on you and you want it dismiissed, if so how much.

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Not sure what you asking advice on?

Is somebody still chasing you for money? have they got a judgement on you and you want it dismiissed, if so how much.

 

 

If I read this correctly, the most important requirement is for the legal charge to be removed.


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I missed that aspect too. If the original firm or solicitor, who are the beneficiary of the legal charge, will not give it up, or indeed if they cannot be contacted, then it would be necessary to have it declared void by a Court. Given the malpractice apparently demonstrated by other clients, there would probably be good grounds for such an application. I still think the Law Society should be contacted to obtain as much information as possible before that though.

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have they put a charge on the property? with the land registry.

Still do not understand what advice you actually want.

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In view of the fact that the Solicitor was struck off (and presumably never resumed practising) and the firm is no more, you should not be too optimistic here.

 

However, the first port of call should be a formal, written complaint to the Law Society, which regulated solicitors at the time and would have full details of the investigations that led to their striking him off. Include all the information above but try to structure your letter into sections outlining the outset of the problem, the ongoing threats and harrassment, as much as you can remember about the scale and date of the losses, what you tried to do about it at the time and what you want done now.

 

The solicitor should also have had professional indemnity insurance and you would turn to them with a view to compensating your losses. However, it would hardly be surprising if he didn't comply with that requirement either, so finding someone to stand for the losses now could be difficult. Even if you could find him personally, it would be a slow process as you'd have to sue him personally. However, be aware that bankruptcy does not write off debts that arise as a result of fraud, so don't be put off by that.

 

I'm most grateful for your time and response.

 

As we currently still have this Legal Charge on our property, we would like to have it removed and given the nature and circumstances as laid out in my letter, we would like to be done free. 2 of the 3 Solicitors are still in practice and both have had disciplinary tribunals and paid costs. We would be hoping that they may be reluctant to have the regularity authority making inquiries and would be willing to release the charge from the Land Registry.

 

Do you think that the claim they made against us for an alleged some of money would have been covered by their professional indemnity insurance?

 

Could you kindly expand on any losses you think we could claim?

 

Many thanks

 

Bob

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Hi

 

Thanks for your help.

 

There is a legal charge currently registered with the Land Registry.

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have they put a charge on the property? with the land registry.

Still do not understand what advice you actually want.

 

Hi

 

Thanks for your help.

 

There is a legal charge currently registered with the Land Registry.

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