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Can a solicitor ignore a request for legal assistance and a complaint?

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Dear all,

 

I had a solicitor act for me by way of a CFA. I subsequently raised a complaint in regards to the poor service I received. The firm failed to allow me to escalate the complaint according to their own complaints policy.

 

Subsequently, I recently requested further legal assistance from the firm (only because I felt I had no choice). The firm just ignored all correspondence from me, even a further complaint.

 

I report the individual to the SRA. The SRA claim, rather curiously, that this is acceptable as I was not a 'client of the firm'. However, it seems, according to the SRA's definition of a client, this includes prospective clients.

 

Did the SRA get this wrong?

 

Sincere thanks in advance.

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You could have (& probably should have!) gone to the Legal Ombudsman, rather than the SRA.

 

The SRA can't investigate "poor service" if it doesn't involve a breach of the SRA's code of conduct, whereas the LO can, and if it finds breaches of the SRA's code of conduct can refer them to the SRA for you ....

Are you now out of time to refer this to the LO?

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I have referred the initial issues to the Legal Ombudsman.

 

I have to wait 8 weeks for the firm to respond to my most recent complaint before I refer these issues to the Legal Ombudsman (8 weeks has not elapsed yet).

 

I have referred cases to the Legal Ombudsman before and found they are a complete waste of time and government funds.

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You approached the solicitors and asked them to act for you on a new matter unrelated to the previous one you had made the complaint about? The solicitor is not obliged to accept new instructions from you about something that they had no previous dealings with you about. It's a bit discourteous to simply ignore your request instead of replying say 'we decline to act for you', but what would you gain from complaining about that?

 

If it was an entirely new matter what did you mean by "(only because I felt I had no choice)"?

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I think they have a duty to provide a proper standard of service. It seems to me that they also have a duty to consider complaints. They did neither.

 

I approached them about a disability discrimination claim. They are the only firm in the country, it seems to me, that that offer CFAs in terms of pursuing these claims in a County Court. I don't feel well enough to pursue these matters on my own and I don't have a good knowledge of the CPR.

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They dont have to take your new instruction.

They dont want your business.

They are not public servants, they run a business for profit.

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I think they have a duty to provide a proper standard of service. It seems to me that they also have a duty to consider complaints. They did neither.

 

I approached them about a disability discrimination claim. They are the only firm in the country, it seems to me, that that offer CFAs in terms of pursuing these claims in a County Court. I don't feel well enough to pursue these matters on my own and I don't have a good knowledge of the CPR.

 

Again (since you have disregarded the previous question....)

Was this a new issue or a continuation of the previous one?

 

If a continuation of the previous one they should tell you if they feel they can no longer act for you in that matter, (and why).

 

If a new issue they have no obligation to accept new instructions, and don’t have to tell you why (if they choose not to).

If you had previously complained about them (had you?), and they felt you had been unreasonable then that will persuade many firms not to accept new instruction from you, and they don’t have to.

 

The fact that they might be the only firm offering CFA’s in that area doesn’t alter that they don’t have to take on a case where they feel the case, or the client, doesn’t fit with their business model.

No firm has to accept new instruction from any client, their duty (to provide service according to the LO and SRA codes) only arises once they have accepted your instruction, and only for that matter.

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It was a new issue.

 

The definition of a client under the SRA code includes a prospective client and therefore, it seems to me, they have a duty to at least assess the issues. I appreciate these things are open to interpretation though.

 

They dont have to take your new instruction.

They dont want your business.

They are not public servants, they run a business for profit.

 

In other words, they are allowed to victimise anyone who raises a complaint against them? It seems to me that amounts to poor service.

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Your not a client or even prospective. You have no contract of services.

They dont want your business and they cannot be forced to take your instructon

 

If I went to buy a can of beans and the beans were bad I wouldn't buy beans from that seller.

If I went to buy a can of beans and I complained that the beans were bad and they were not, the bean seller wouldn't want to sell me more beans

 

In other words, they are allowed to victimise anyone who raises a complaint against them? It seems to me that amounts to poor service.

 

In a nutshell yes it is poor service.

But if they say they don't want to do business with you no one can force them to.

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Agreed but it seems to could be a breach of the SRA code (which is my original enquiry) and I could request compensation by way of the Legal Ombudsman.

 

Why do you say I was not a prospective client?

 

What is your definition of that?

 

So if you returned an item to Tesco, for example, do you think it is proper that Tesco bans you from their store?

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You asking for new instruction and being refused.

Prospective client means your both willing to form a contract. They are not.

 

If you've had a problem with them complain. That's your right. But don't expect them to take new instructon from you.

Why would a business that Is solely there to make profits take on new instruction that could, potentially, from past record, possibly cost the business money

 

Why do you say I was not a prospective client? What is your definition of that?

 

So if you returned an item to Tesco, for example, do you think it is proper that Tesco bans you from their store?

 

I said yes its poor service, your right.

 

But in essence Tesco could. They don't have to sell you anything if they don't want too.

Bad business practices granted but they could

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There is no definition of a 'prospective client' in the SRA code so that is open to interpretation.

 

I am not questioning their business model but whether they breached the SRA code.

 

I fully appreciate many solicitors don't give a damn about the interests of justice.

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Yes their is a definition of client and prospective client in the SRA.

Look under glossery of terms.

 

It says client is the person for whom you act and were the context permits includes prospective and former clients.

 

This means if they are not up front say with their fees or gain instruction or try to gain instructon under false pretenses then you have recourse.

 

They have said we dont want your new instruction.

End of.

No recourse on that

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I said yes its poor service, your right.

 

But in essence Tesco could. They don't have to sell you anything if they don't want too.

Bad business practices granted but they could

 

As long as they are acting within the law e.g. the Equality Act 2010.

 

It seems the firm in question isn't doing too well. They have recently downsized and changed their identity/trading name. I'm really not surprised...

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Your really getting into dodgy ground if your quoting the equality act.

On what grounds are they breaking the law, why are you being disadvantaged.

If your saying they wont take on a case against a third party on the grounds of equality, they don't have to.

Or are you saying they wont take on a case just because of you.

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Yes their is a definition of client and prospective client in the SRA.

Look under glossery of terms.

 

It says client is the person for whom you act and were the context permits includes prospective and former clients.

 

This means if they are not up front say with their fees or gain instruction or try to gain instructon under false pretenses then you have recourse.

 

They have said we dont want your new instruction.

End of.

No recourse on that

 

The glossary only reiterates what is previously set out i.e. the definition of a client includes prospective clients. It does not define what a prospective client is.

 

They have not said they do not want my instructions. They have just ignored me together with my complaint.

 

Your really getting into dodgy ground if your quoting the equality act.

On what grounds are they breaking the law, why are you being disadvantaged.

If your saying they wont take on a case against a third party on the grounds of equality, they don't have to.

Or are you saying they wont take on a case just because of you.

 

I'm not accusing them of breaching the Equality Act though, that said, there may be an argument for victimisation. My complaint to them was they did not treat my claim properly, which was a claim I sought to bring under the Equality Act. This, arguably, is a protected act as defined under section 27(2)©. They subsequently refused to act or even communicate with me. This is subjecting me to a detriment. Indeed, they would not comply with their own complaints procedure in circumstances where it is common ground that I was a client of theirs.

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Look up the definition of prospective.

If the glossary of terms had to have every word defined then it would be 10 million words long.

Client is defined.

Prospective means possible

Former means in the past.

 

Your complaint is ignored then escalate it.

They don't have to acknowledge your instruction.

 

Answer the question on equality act

 

Equality question answered. Thanks.

 

Just making sure your not accusing them.

 

As per last post.

 

Escalate the complaint.

They still dont have to take new instruction from you, and to be truthfull I wouldn't either if I were them

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I have looked that up and the definition doesn't exist.

 

It is plain I was a "possible" client.

 

I've answered the question.

 

I think I should get legal advice on the victimisation claim as it may have merit.

 

are you a solicitor by any chance?

 

It seems you are hardly impartial here.

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I am impartial.

No I'm not a solicitor.

 

As advised. Escalate the complaint

But I cannot see how you cannot see that they don't want any more of your business and they cannot be forced to take it

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When did I argue that?

 

Similarly, when did I try and "force" them to have me as a client?

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Your complaining that they have ignored your request for a new instruction

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Yes, which may be a breach of the SRA code.

 

You also seem to agree this amounts to poor service.

 

It may also be unlawful in terms of section 27 of the Equality Act 2010.

 

In summary, they are free to do what they want but they should expect that there may be consequences.

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No it I not against sra not to take new instruction.

They don't have to do business with anyone they don't want too

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Thanks, are you a solicitor by any chance?

 

It seems you are hardly impartial here.

 

It seems simple to me. They weren't acting for you and didn't tell you they were. The criticism is that they didn't actually tell you they won't act for you.

 

Aside from that, which is relatively minor, you said you chose this firm because they agree to do a certain type of work under a CFA. If they weren't acting for you, you can't have received a CFA to sign, so could be under no illusion that they were acting for you. How long between you requesting they act, and you chasing them to see if they accepted your instructions?

 

Also it isn't clear what detriment you have suffered by them not acting for you. Are you out of time to bring your Claim?

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There are many issues:

 

They accepted instructions in regards to the first matter. We entered into a CFA. It was an Equality Act 2010 claim.

 

Subsequently, they were very slow in progressing the matter. There was evidently very little communication between them and the barrister. They also didn't get disclosure from the other side. Then, to make matters worse, just one day before I had to submit particulars, they left me high and dry knowing that I suffered from various health problems.

 

I then initiated their complaints procedure, which they evidently failed to honour in retrospect.

 

Whilst I was waiting for them to respond to my initial round of complaints in regards to the first matter (they have 8 weeks according to the Legal Ombudsman), I approached them with a new matter. They just ignored me and the complaint that followed (regarding the new/second matter).

 

It may be they are trying to protect their position in that they feel I may have a professional negligence claim against them. They asked me if I was accusing them of being negligent but I did not answer. I believe I am not compelled to, especially in circumstances where the complaints procedure had not been exhausted.

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