Area of law: Residential conveyancing
Complaint reason(s): Failure to progress, failure to investigate complaint internally
Remedy: To pay £500
Outcome: Ombudsman’s decision accepted by complainant
Ms L instructed the firm to sell her house. She paid £75 towards the fee but was reassured when the firm offered her a ‘no completion, no fee’ deal.
Ms L didn’t receive much communication from the firm and, after numerous unanswered calls and emails, she discovered that her buyer had pulled out.
Ms L asked for her £75 back and asked the firm for her file. She also complained about the lack of contact she had received. The firm didn’t refund the fee and said Ms L would have to pay a further £25 if she wanted her file. To make things worse, the firm wouldn’t answer the complaint until she paid.
We investigated, and agreed that the deal was ‘no completion, no fee’. Therefore, as the sale had fallen through, Ms L shouldn’t be expected to pay the firm. We also agreed that the firm’s communication had been poor and that they hadn’t progressed matters as well as they might have.
We said that the firm’s terms and conditions, which were given to Ms L at the outset, explained that the firm may charge for the release of a file. On that basis, we said that the firm were entitled to request a small payment. However, we were clear that the firm should have responded to Ms L’s complaint regardless of this. The ombudsman decided that the firm should pay Ms L £500 in compensation for their poor communication and failure to deal with her complaint.