Area of law: Family law
Complaint reason(s): Failure to follow instructions
Remedy: To pay compensation for emotional impact and/or disruption caused
Outcome: Ombudsman decision rejected by complainant
Mr A instructed the firm four years ago in relation to a family matter, regarding contact with his son. He became unhappy because he received a letter from the firm saying that the solicitor who had been acting for him was no longer dealing with the matter, and that another solicitor would instead. Mr A complained that he didn’t receive an explanation for why the original solicitor stopped representing him.
Mr A is also unhappy because he says that the firm missed the deadline for appealing his case, and even resisted making the appeal. He feels that the firm have bullied and misled him. Mr A wanted the firm to appeal for him and pay him £2,000 compensation.
When we investigated, we found that the firm should have told him that they couldn’t act in relation to his appeal once his legal aid funding ended. They did tell him that they couldn’t get further funding but then the fee earner continued to act on Mr A’s behalf, which caused confusion as to what the firm’s position was. It was only when someone else reviewed the file that the firm became aware that the work was being done without funding: it was then that the firm told Mr A they could no longer act for him. In our view, although he had had the benefit of the additional work done after the funding ran out, the firm had caused unnecessary confusion. The ombudsman decided that the firm should pay him £200 compensation. Mr A rejected the decision.