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Express Solicitors - Breach of Contract, court summons


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Good Afternoon,

 

Never had a county court summons before and have no idea what I need to do? Can anyone please help?

 

This relates to my wife who has acted like an ostrich these last few months.

 

Please find below a summary.

 

Wife was involved in a crash where she was hit from behind by another driver.

We thought best to use one of these ambulance chaser solicitors, no win no fee to see if we had a claim.

 

Initially details were taken over the phone and the claim started.

During the 1-year process, wife’s car insurance company told her that the other party in the accident was uninsured.

Wife got fed-up with the constant calls from Express Solicitors requesting docs and visits to her GP and decided to withdrawal the claim.

 

Like I mentioned above, there has been some Ostrich behaviour on the part of my wife here.

She has had correspondence these last few months from Express Solicitors informing her that they are now chasing her for "Breach of Contact"

(I was only informed that this was the case when she came in crying about the summons this morning)

 

I understand that we could be liable for the costs involved in the case, while it was ongoing but the costs amounting to our case is for £3424.20.

I don't understand if this is a fair amount to have to pay, although the summons is asking for £3000 plus court fee £115.00 and legal representatives costs £80, which is a total amount of £3195.00.

 

Can anyone please help with what would now be the best course of action?

 

Thanking everyone in advance,

 

KR,

James.

 

 

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Which is all great but detracting from the most pressing issue of what date is the Defence due and what are the legal arguments against this breach of contract claim. 

The OP needs to ask Express for copies of:   * Signed CFA and schedules.  * Signed T&Cs.  * Signed authority to commence.  * ATE policy schedule and information.  * A

Please post up the claim form, the letter of claim and the terms and conditions or at least link us to the terms and conditions that they are referring to. In scanned PDF format please not a photo. al

It sounds like a lot of money. Didn't they warn you about what might happen if you withdrew the claim?

Although it's a bit late now and doesn't help you, you should also know that no win no fee doesn't mean that if you lose, you are not responsible for the costs of the winner.

I have to say that you've been here since 2008 – I'm really quite astonished that you didn't come here first for some advice.

Please can you post up the claim form in PDF format – scanned – not a photo

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Thank you BankFodder for your help and advice.

 

Personally, I was not fully aware of all the circumstances of this claim until today, when the wife showed me the summons and gave me the back story to this sorry saga.(I’m flabbergasted and in shock)

 

I do remember last year she telling me that she had withdrawn the claim as the other driver had no insurance and that Express solicitors were on her case, constantly calling her at work, demanding more information and medical appointments to be carried out.

 

I have used this site many times over the years and always recommend it as the information, knowledge and expect advice found within these forum's are unsurpassed and greatly appreciated.

 

I will forward over the claim form shortly (is this the county court summons)

 

Initially, she was not told that she would be liable for any costs when she withdrew the claim over the phone but buried within their mountain of terms and conditions, there is sections under Claus? section?  

that if you cancel, you are breaking the contract and will be in BREACH OF CONTRACT and liable for costs that have been incurred whilst handing the claim.

 

Sorry it’s all very complicated and confusing, 

I’m at a loss to understand how we got to this point!    

                                                                           

My understanding is that several months had passed when she first cancelled the claim, until recently when she was informed about the costs involved due to breach of contract which happened last November. Since then, until the summons today nothing has been done! 

 

Maybe we could have contacted Express Solicitors and asked them for a breakdown of the cost's and how they got to the figure of £3424.20 but this was not followed through!      

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Yes, please scan up the claim.

Because it is a small claim, there is nothing to be lost by defending and by challenging their calculations.

You may be able to get a deduction – but on the basis of what you say so far, I'm afraid you are probably liable for something. It's a real shame because if you are hit in the rear by an uninsured driver then it was a slamdunk case in your favour. Don't you have your insurance?

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My thoughts exactly regarding this slam-dunk claim but unfortunately, I left it up to the wife to follow though and still don’t fully understand the reasons why she pulled out, when we had everything in place including valid insurance.

 

To be fair she works in a very demanding roll and got really fed up with all the phone calls from this outfit and the fact that when she called them back, that she got bounced around and nothing seemed to get sorted, she just lost faith in the end.

 

Never had to deal with this type of Solicitors before and she found them to be very demanding and quite intimidating at times.

 

Thanks BankFolder,

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Please post up the claim form, the letter of claim and the terms and conditions or at least link us to the terms and conditions that they are referring to. In scanned PDF format please not a photo. also what is the value of the claim? and also what was the value of the damage that you are claiming for?  was it simply damage to your vehicle or was it also personal injury? What was the intended value of your claim?

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Actually, also send them an SAR on Monday.

That will give you visibility into exactly what these ‘costs’ are made up of.

 

Once an SAR is sent by you it becomes a legal obligation for them to provide you with every piece of information they have on you within 40 days. This includes fees, emails, screenshots, phone conversations .

 

Companies tend to snap to it when this is requested , if an SAR is not fulfilled correctly, it’s very easy for you to to report them to the ICO. The fines for them not complying are bankruptcy level.

 

Im going to bet that you will be the first person to send an SAR to them and they will poo themselves, and either not comply or send an incomplete reply. That’s perfect because you can use it as a stick to beat them with to get them to drop the claim.

 

If they do comply the information will help you put together a defence. It will be interesting for a judge to see if these probably hyper inflated fees are fair.

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30 days

 

I'm afraid that it's most unlikely that they will be worried about it and I think it's a new in possibility that it will persuade them to drop their claim.
 the best you can hope for in my view is that they will reduce the amount. However let's see all the paperwork first.

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Good, they had better have a data controller, and if that data controller doesn’t care about GDPR he / she should be fired. My European marketing director was fired over a GDPR issue. The fines are terrifying and are a massive stick.

 

Either way it’s necessary for the OP to know exactly what these fees are made up of.

 

£3.5 k is a lot of billable hours for a quality solicitor even. It would be interesting to see how many hours they put in to this. Probs no more than a couple of hours work. 3k is ridiculous.

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, BankFodder said:



Although it's a bit late now and doesn't help you, you should also know that no win no fee doesn't mean that if you lose, you are not responsible for the costs of the winner.
 

 

It does, providing:

a) the claim isn't "fundamentally dishonest', and

b) you follow the advice of the solicitors.

 

if there isn't a problem with a) or b), then the other side's costs will be covered by ATE (after the event ) insurance,

(it'd be very unusual for the solicitor to not arrange that - when you could go after them for the costs....

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Where does the accusation of Libel come in?  Also GDPR is relevant to any dtat dealins by Solicitors.

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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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He means "liable"

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Futhermore there is a mountain of paper-work for me to yet to go through but I do have their "low cost conditional fee agreement" and on page 14 of 17, it does set out their Hourly rates which work out an average of £300 per hour.

 

Just trying to draw up the dots and understand the breakdown of costs that can warrent the charges in this summons?

 

So i'm guessing this works out to be about 10 x hours of work, which seems rather exessive!

 

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I'm terribly sorry but I don't think that you are being very fair to us.

You have uploaded documents in single page single file format so that in order to have a look at the document that might be two three pages long we have to do two or three downloads and then open them up separately. Also, you haven't bothered to name them so that we have no idea what were opening. IMGxxxx.pdf is completely unhelpful to us.

I suppose that if we were charging you £300 an hour we would be happy to sort your documents out for you because it will probably take at least an hour of our time. I suppose that if you were paying £300 an hour you would probably want to save yourself the money by posting them up in multipage single file PDF format and properly named.

Please can you sort them out and post them again.

 

Also, I have to say to everyone else on this thread that there seems to be a mood that this claim won't get anywhere. I'm afraid I take a much more pessimistic view and I wouldn't be so gung ho about it.

I can't imagine there will be any difficulty fulfilling an SAR – and even if there was, I don't see how that would impact directly on this claim. I'm afraid that three hundred pounds an hour may well be the going rate and it seems to have been described in the terms and conditions so that the OP was apparently aware of the rate for the job.
I think the issues will be whether 10 hours of work of being carried out – don't forget that the figure probably includes VAT so it may be less than 10 hours.

I think also an issue might be whether the terms concerning what happens if you stop cooperating with the claim were properly brought to the attention of the client – and whether they had a further duty to explain once she had decided to withdraw the claim and she had informed them.

Of course because we haven't really got the whole story we don't know how they were informed. We also don't know the value – of the potential value of the claim which is being made on her behalf. We also don't really know why she didn't want to cooperate other than she felt harassed by it.

We actually don't know very much. However, it might be that 10 hours is reasonable. That we have no way of saying at the moment. However, I'm pretty certain that they are going to win something in this claim.

The whole thing is such a shame because the OP has told us that he is often telling other people about us – but doesn't seem to have taken his own advice. Also, we are dealing with an uninsured driver here and having had a quick look at the MIB website, they have a standard claim form which could have been filled out and the claim could have begun.

I'm not sure that the claim couldn't be picked up again – and the bottom line here might be that the solicitor claimant's might have to be paid off with something – but the claim against the uninsured driver could be resumed with our help so that maybe something would be recovered.

Alternatively, a deal could be done with the claimant solicitors to resume the claim for a slightly higher fee. This could satisfy them.

However, we haven't been given documents in a presentable form. We've been warned that there is a further large bundle of documents – and frankly I don't really want have to wade through them so I rather they weren't posted up here.

Frankly I would rather the OP comes back – tells the story more carefully with less narrative that so that we have the whole picture and also puts up his documents in a presentable fashion and then maybe we can find a way through the mess which has been created.

 

On a final note – don't forget the you are up against a firm of solicitors here. This is what they do for a living. Their costs of doing this are negligible and they won't let it go – unless you are very clever about the way you handle it.

I suspect that a negotiation will be the best way.

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@BankFodder .Very good point you make. Perhaps the OP only needs to ring the solicitors, apologise, and give them all the information they need from his wife, then Bob's your uncle, they win and you receive a payout. Everyone is happy.

 

Judging by their Google Reviews they are pretty good at winning cases.

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I don't think the OP should do anything without telling us what is really going on and so we can discuss a way forward. I think telephone conversation is a nonstarter and I think it would have to begin with proposals in writing.

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Morning BankFodder,

 

Apologies you are absolutely correct, sorry I’m not very office savvy but will get onto it right away.

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Hi and apologies for that, i didn't know how to merge all pages as I only had a home printer, but wife managed to merge the pages in one document. I hope this is now more readable without having to switch pages. I have scanned the main pages only so 9 in total.

Please let me know if this is what you meant.
Thanks again everyone.

All_main_documents_merged.pdf

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Thank you. And makes life easier and things are clearer now.

I think you have zero chance of winning.

Can you tell us a bit about the accident?

What was the damage to the vehicle and what injuries did your wife suffer?

Why were they telephoning her for information? Didn't they do this by correspondence?

Why did she avoid cooperating?

Why didn't you involve your insurers? Are you only on third party fire and theft?

 

Did they give you any idea of the likely value of the claim?

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Posted (edited)

Thank you again BankFodder and everyone.

 

I'll hand to over now to my wife, who will explain the about points,

 

Hi, i am the wife and thank you all for valuable advice above. First time on here so apologies in advance for any slippages, however i have read the  forum's rule this morning they were v helpful.

  • I was rear hit on the M25 slipp road by another female driver early in the morning going for my MOT. I reported the incident to my insurer.
  • I was/am fully comprehensive 
  • A week later, i had a neck pain. Also suffer from spondolities of the neck and on daily medication for that. The accident accelarated things so went to my GP, who increased my meds dose (a very strong controlled drug).
  • Contacted Express solicitors- made an injury claim shortly after my GP visit
  • Received email from Express to sign the duly documents -electronically
  • Fees- I vaguely remember they stating somewhere between £4-6k with Express holding whatever %
  • 8 months went on, insuarnce informed me that the other party was not insured and they were pursuing the matter legally, so more forms to fill for the court for my insurance company
  •  Provided Express with GP details and other stuff they required- but it was so frustrating as they used to call me during working hours at work, leave a mesasge for me to call back, when calling back after work on my way home i was passed from one person to the other, going over the same information, again another call the next day, probaly to mount their 2 min call
  • Filled out the forms again - i don't know what they did with the first lot- exaclty same forms as first time when claim was raised, inlcuding details on loss days of work, GP visits etc,
  • Kept sending me things to sign electronically which i did
  • I have a very demanding job and lI am responsible and lead a Programme Management Team that delivers high savings for a government organisation, so quite frankly i don't know how I ended up dealing with this Express really,  so I used to find the entire situation i was in quite stressful, it was either work or Express after work on my way home.
  • I was quite low and fed up with everything (work and them and life), so one day during my conversation with express, on my one and a half hour comute , (on hands free by the way) i  told the girl on the phone to just not bother me anymore with this as i have given all the information they needed, and i wanted them to get on with it.
  • I gave up because  i found it stressful and frustrating and couldn't cope with my high pressured job.

Thanks all and i didn't mean for it to be such a lengthy post

Edited by bigdaddy36
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Thank you for this.
Do I understand that they estimated the value of the claim at between £4000 and £6000? You don't know what percentage that express were going to take from this?

Why didn't you proceed through your own insurers?

Have you got any evidence of the phone calls that occurred?
Have you got any evidence of the fact that you filled in these forms repeatedly?

Have you sent them an SAR? If you haven't then I think you should do so.

I have to say that your account slightly improves my view of the outcome for you.

Did you visit doctors about this and did you get any medical opinions?

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SAR should produce all phone conversations. If they don't, report to ICO.

 

Medical conditions ? Note from a GP? Explaining Medications Side effects etc. Esp if Meds have depression or anxiety side effects, another stick to beat 'em with.

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In fact looking at your account again, it seems to me that you were proceeding through your insurer and also through express. Why was this?

 

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Posted (edited)

Hi Thanks all and replying in order of points raised

 

Yes - correct in the amount £4,000-6000 with i think 25% (on this bracket)

 

I had no clue- i was advised to call those claim injury firms!

 

Haven't got evidence of phone calls unless i get my previous bills, but have evidence of the emails i have received from them following calls incl filling forms repeatedly

 

Haven't asked for the SAR yet but will do so now on advice


GP- yes visited and discussed the case in detail and information passed on to Express

 

And yes meds for depression too, my GP knows me for a long time and knows the job i do and we discussed the accident too including my accelerated pain, i actually still suffer from that, had an ex ray later, and was told if i had been in an accident as neck shows damaged vertebra, prior to accident i had a CT scan for my neck, but the accident flared it more.

 

Express did stress me a lot, the people that called were not trained solicitors, just admin/secretary, staff, not even paralegal.
 

Truly not sure why i didn't proceed through my insurance, i had never had a claim before so a bit new to this world

 

Many thanks

 

On 28/06/2020 at 11:14, BankFodder said:

In fact looking at your account again, it seems to me that you were proceeding through your insurer and also through express. Why was this?

 

No i wasn't proceeding through insurance, insurance only dealt with claiming the damage to the vehicle.

 

When completing the forms i didn't claim for medical injury via them as had a case with Express

Edited by bigdaddy36
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