Area of law: Family law
Complaint reason(s): Delay, costs information deficient, costs excessive
Remedy: To limit fees to a specific amount, to complete work free of charge
Outcome: Ombudsman decision accepted by complainant
Mrs I was getting divorced and instructed the firm to help her. It took a long time to settle her divorce and about a year and a half after she instructed the firm she was told that the bill had reached £5,000. Another year or more passed and Mrs I learned to her astonishment that the bill increased to £15,000. Mrs I had asked more than once for detailed costs information, to no effect.
Mrs I complained to the firm and at first they didn’t respond, except to tell her that her costs had increased by then by another £4,000. The firm eventually responded to the complaint and offered to reduce her bill back to £15,000 – they said that the £20,000 bill was correct. Mr I complained to us.
During our investigation we found that the firm had failed to provide Mrs I with the costs updates she asked for and had delayed matters – her divorce took nearly three years. The ombudsman decided that the firm should reduce the bill – to £14,000 – and should finish any outstanding work on the divorce, free of charge. Mrs I accepted the ombudsman’s decision.