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Small claims court with family law solicitor over disputed costs


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Hi, 

 

I had a pretty expensive run in court with my ex over access to my kids. It is pretty much resolved now but I am disputing the costs of the solicitor as they are so high.

A quick summary of my issues are that although they detailed that they would carry out cost benefit analysis with me throughout that was not the case. I paid 9k or so up to the month of the court case and then had another 9k bill the next month. I am disputing the second bill. 

Partly through no cost benefit analysis being carried out. Partly through costing being ambiguous, due to vat/disbursements not being made clear which the legal ombudsman specifically highlights as an issue that solicitors must comply with. Partly through mismanagement of costs in my opinion as they spent time on certain things that were no starters and instructed one barrister who only attended court to say that there wasn't enough time to complete what was required and it was put back. That cost me £1700. 

The legal ombudsman's guidelines state that the costing must be transparent in all cases and I feel that mine were not. 

I have passed it to the legal ombudsman's a year ago but they have a large backlog it seems. There is a chance that they won't even want to pursue my case. 

 

 

The solicitors have issued small claims proceedings. They recently offered me 6800 to settle.

I was going to offer 2800.

I think if I settle then I have to withdraw the legal ombudsman case. Happy to be corrected 

If I want to see it through I need to know how the costs work if I lose. 

 

If I lose I have to pay their legal costs I think. That would be more than I have. Would I be able to set it up under a payment plan? Would I be charged interest for the time it took me to pay. Would I be defaulted?

 

My understanding is that if the ombudsman found in my favour then the solicitors would have to pay back whatever the ombudsman deemed to be fair. I would have to pay what they feel.is owed first to then recover it. 

 

Does anyone know of someone who could advise me as to my likelihood of winning the case or how best to proceed? 

 

Thanks Jon

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I think if you join in the legal action told them that would bring an end to the legal ombudsman process.

I understand that you started a complaint to the legal and despite that the solicitors have started proceedings. Is this correct?
If it is correct then it seems to me that the solicitors not behaving correctly and this would be grounds for a separate complaint to the legal ombudsman and I would expect that the solicitors would be required to withdraw or at least to stay their claim.

If there is a legal ombudsman's decision which eventually you disagree with, this would not stop you continuing going to court.

You say that if you lost the small claim, you would have to pay the solicitors costs. You would only have to pay the costs within the small claims rules which means that you would pay their claim fee and a hearing fee.

 

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The solicitors may have issued proceedings to ensure that their claim doesn’t get statute barred.

 

Contact them, explaining that you understand that might be why they have issued, but since the matter has already gone to the Legal Ombudsman, you expect them to stay their claim pending the LO’s decision.

Reinforce this by making a payment of what you believe you owe, without accepting liability for any further sum, and again dependent on the LO’s decision : if after the LO’s decision you are owed money back you’ll expect to have it refunded.

 

The aim is to be (& appear!) most reasonable. If they then pursue the claim before the LO issues their ruling, you raise all of this for the court’s attention ......

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