Area of law: Family law
Complaint reason(s): Costs excessive, costs information deficient
Remedy: No remedy
Outcome: Ombudsman decision rejected by complainant
Mrs B instructed the firm in her divorce. At the outset, there was some difficulty between Mrs B and her ex-partner about who their son should live with. The solicitor suggested that a junior solicitor should handle the day-to-day running of the case, to keep the costs down. Once the residency issue had been agreed, the firm went on to try and settle the financial matters, but they ran into difficulty reaching an agreement on maintenance payments.
The other side then questioned Mrs B’s health and so the firm needed to produce a medical report for the court, which they duly did. They were beginning to see why the couple had separated.
Mrs B raised a complaint to the firm, with 35 issues about the service she received. She felt that the costs had been excessive and that she was not provided with enough information about what the costs would be. She also felt she had been given poor advice by the firm, and was unhappy with the medical report, believing it had not supported her case.
From our investigation, we felt that overall the costs information provided to Mrs B had been adequate. Mrs B’s case handler changed, but she was assured that this would not have an impact on the costs. She was also given a reduction in costs of over £2,500, for the time it took the new case handler to catch up. Mrs B had also been given various other discounts and had been given clear guidance as to the work the firm were doing and how much it would cost.
We also felt that the firm had given reasonable advice to Mrs B throughout the process. There may have been areas for improvement, where the firm could have perhaps provided more detailed information about the financial settlement and maintenance payments, on the whole the advice was reasonable and did not cause any hardship to Mrs B.