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Re: Employment Tribunal Solicitor Threats HELP!!

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Hi

 

with this case in mind, can a solicitor change their terms mid way through a litigation by them believing we were going to lose.

 

In our case our solicitor did not carry out the proper defence at the hearing by more or less not asking any relevant questions and allowing the ex employer to bring their defence to the tribunal on the DAY of the hearing thus leaving us with no time to read or put together any form of reply.

 

At more or less this time (a week or so prior) he decide to change his terms from a no win no fee to charging us for the case (over £1000) and now over two years since the hearing we had stopped paying (only paid about £200) as we were both out of work and on benefits which we informed him of and now after two years since the last payment he has decided to push for payment.

 

we are still on benefits and cannot afford to pay quite apart from feeling very let down as at the time of my wife (who was the person who was taking her ex employer to the tribunal) was under a load of pressure and wanted to make her ex understand that he just could not sack her without due cause.

 

Although this is not much else as part of the payment thing, they had 4 people there who swore and oath and EVERY one of them lied with absolutely no evidence to back up ANY of their statements.

 

Any advice or help will be great, thanks

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Hi,

 

I think your question is one of contract, not employment, law. The contract between you and the solicitor.

 

What were the terms you signed, please?


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Hi

 

Nothing was signed at all!

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It was all verbal about a week prior to the hearing

Hi

 

Nothing was signed at all!

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Then you really can't prove he broke the terms of your agreement. Sorry. On the other hand, he can't prove it either. But the fact you have paid some instalments probably stuffs you - if it were no win no fee, why would you pay? That may be enough to sway a judge in his favour.

 

Still, he cannot have what you do not have, can he! Pound a month, I expect.


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Sorry about this question; what is an engagement letter?

Did he send you an engagement letter?

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Hi

 

The reason my wife paid was because at that time she was under a whole load of pressure, she was about to lose here house, her son was behaving badly (its all god now) and the solicitor more or less said that we could win but he needed to be paid as according to him the no win no fee time had run out as had the ;egal aid money had run out also.

Then you really can't prove he broke the terms of your agreement. Sorry. On the other hand, he can't prove it either. But the fact you have paid some instalments probably stuffs you - if it were no win no fee, why would you pay? That may be enough to sway a judge in his favour.

 

Still, he cannot have what you do not have, can he! Pound a month, I expect.

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Sorry about this question; what is an engagement letter?

 

No worries. It is standard practice for any solicitor to send you an engagement letter setting out the terms of their instruction. In fact it is actually an SRA requirement. There is a standard template produced by the law society for no-win-no-fee cases. Do you recall receiving a letter like this?

 

If the solicitor was getting paid by legal aid it wasn't no-win-no-fee. I am confused by your reference to legal aid because it is not usually available for employment cases. Can you elaborate?


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to be honest, now with your comment I am confused!

 

My wife was not working and the solicitor agreed to take the case on a no win no fee basis and then got my wife to complete a legal aid form. I am confused now!!

 

We have the letter stating that the case was a no win no fee basis though!

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What does the letter say about whether the solicitor can terminate the no win no fee arrangement?


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I can't see anything that says anything like that, but I am going through all of the letters etc. again but to now I haven't found anything that says something like that!

 

What does the letter say about whether the solicitor can terminate the no win no fee arrangement?

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There's a lot about this thread that seems unusual to me. If you are sure you didn't get an engagement letter, to me that sounds very odd especially for a NWNF arrangement. If the solicitor did not properly explain the terms of his engagement to you, and suddenly turned round and said I will stop acting for you unless you pay me, then I would think that would be grounds for a complaint and escalation to the Legal Ombudsman if not resolved. Do check whether you have received the engagement letter though and ask the solicitor for a copy if unsure.

 

I'm also not sure about whether this case was legal aid or NWNF. These are not the same thing - under legal aid the government pays your fees; under NWNF you pay the fees from your compensation. Do you know if legal aid was actually awarded?

 

Personally, I would write back to the solicitor explaining my personal financial circumstances. I would also ask for a copy of the engagement letter and legal aid forms, as well as a breakdown of costs, in order to verify the amount. Once you have the documents you can have a good read to see if the solicitor was entitled to take the course of action he took. You can then perhaps try to agree a reduction or a payment plan.


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HI

 

This is based upon the fact that the solicitor did not follow up until March. Unfortunately my wife has had an ongoing illness that has taken our time and is now fine after a small hospital operation.

 

I have gone through ALL of the correspondence regarding this situation and the only things I am able to find is a copy of his contract which is the No Win No Fee contract. We have no engagement letter that I am able to see ( I am not sure if one stating what he is going to do and what my wife had to do is one which is one we have).

 

The case started as a legal aid one and when that money ran out he offered the No Win NO Fee which she accepted.

 

There is one paragraph that states “We can end the Agreement if we believe that you are unlikely to win and you disagree with us. You do not have to pay anything”. My wife agreed that she could lose but wanted to continue to which he agreed to do with no indication of any form of fee.

 

 

when he felt that my wife was really going to lose and when she was under a real load of pressure and duress he then changed the terms of the contract. To which due to the pressure she was under she agreed. She does not have any form of written contract with the solicitor for this, but does have one for the no win no fee.

 

The main fly in the ointment that I can see is that she has already paid £320 towards the wrongful invoice (which we do have, showing no disbursements). But I did try and explain to her that I did not think she should pay due to the no win no fee situation.

 

I have drafted a letter stating her points.

 

Any help or information would be very welcome

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what's happened between october and now?


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Can you please explain a bit further what you mean by 'To which due to the pressure she was under she agreed'?

 

Saying that he changed the contract is a bit different to saying that he wanted to terminate the contract, but he offered to continue the contract on certain amended terms and your wife accepted. To get meaningful advice you'd need to tell us what the solicitor proposed and what your wife agreed to.

 

The NWNF contract will also be the terms of engagement, I think.


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Nothing! nor was there any communication from December 2010 until then!

what's happened between october and now?

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the pressure was all due to the fact that her ex employer was trying to get her to droop the case by implying that she was at fault.

 

The only amended terms were that he said that he belived that she would lose! As explained his terms stated that if we disagreed with his thoughts he could change the terms, however we AGREED with him more or less saying that we understood that every case is one where we could either win or lose it always depends on the day!

 

As also stated we have NO engagement of terms for the invoiced period but do have a contract that is the NWNF terms.

Can you please explain a bit further what you mean by 'To which due to the pressure she was under she agreed'?

 

Saying that he changed the contract is a bit different to saying that he wanted to terminate the contract, but he offered to continue the contract on certain amended terms and your wife accepted. To get meaningful advice you'd need to tell us what the solicitor proposed and what your wife agreed to.

 

The NWNF contract will also be the terms of engagement, I think.

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OK. Do I understand correctly that the only thing which was agreed is that there was a risk your wife might lose the case? And that there was no agreed amendment or change to the NWNF terms?


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Only that the solicitor told her/us that she could lose, and that more or less at that time he changed the terms but we have no letter of engagement or contract just the invoice.

 

There is one other point; he received the other sides defense on the Thursday prior to Easter and due to that time he didn't contact either of us to collect it so the first we saw was on the day of the Tribunal which was the Tuesday immediately after Easter right before we went into the hearing .. well about 30 minutes before, ... no time to really read it all or make any form of decsion.

 

To say that we were disapointed does not even come close to what I (and my wife) actually felt, plus his performance left a double decker bus to lose he was worse than pathetic but that isn't anything we/she can do about that. I am not legally trained but I couild have asked questions and he asked more or less nothing.

OK. Do I understand correctly that the only thing which was agreed is that there was a risk your wife might lose the case? And that there was no agreed amendment or change to the NWNF terms?

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OK. Apologies but I am still not following what you mean by saying 'he changed the terms'. I'm not sure whether this was a phone call or in writing; whether your wife agreed to it and whether it was before or after the hearing.

 

I think the first stage would be to write a formal letter to the solicitor quoting the terms of your NWNF contract and stating that, under this contract, you do not feel that you are liable for legal fees. He will then need to put forward his justification for trying to charge in writing.


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Letter sorted and about to be sent

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