Area of law: Employment
Complaint reason(s): Delay; failure to keep informed; failure to advise
Remedy: £50 refund and £50 compensation
Outcome: Ombudsman decision accepted by the complainant
Miss E and a number of her colleagues decided to take their employer to court over a dispute about unequal pay. They chose a local firm of solicitors to represent them, who agreed to work for them ‘no win no fee’. The solicitor needed some money as a fighting fund, so Miss E and her colleagues each paid him £50.
A year passed and nothing much happened. Miss E received a letter from the firm saying that someone new would take over the case. More time passed with no progress and so Miss E complained to the firm. The solicitor wrote back, offering to meet them to discuss the claim. Miss E asked for a written response from the solicitor, which she didn’t receive. A few months later Miss E found out that the firm closed and the solicitor had gone to work elsewhere.
The investigator found that the firm had failed to progress the case and decided that the solicitor should return to Miss E her £50 and pay her £50 in compensation. The solicitor didn’t respond to the investigator’s findings and so the case was passed on to an Ombudsman for a formal decision. The Ombudsman agreed with the investigator but pointed out that because the firm had ceased trading it would be difficult to enforce the decision. It is hoped that the firm’s indemnity insurers will pick up the award, but there is no guarantee of this.