Area of law: Personal injury
Complaint reason(s): Failure to advise, failure to keep informed
Remedy: To pay £50 compensation for distress
Outcome: Ombudsman’s decision rejected by complainant
Mr S had a motorcycle accident. His insurance company put him in touch with a solicitor to deal with his personal injury claim. The firm were acting on a no win no fee basis and estimated the case would cost £2,500.
When Mr S met with the barrister, they agreed that his physical injury would probably fall within the £15,250 to £21,500 bracket. On top of this they discussed his psychological injuries, loss of earnings and costs to his business. The other side made an offer of £21,000, and the firm put forward a counter offer of £34,000 at Mr S’s request. Offers went back and forth and Mr S became concerned the firm were not representing his case properly.
The other side then offered £22,000 in full and final settlement. The firm made Mr S aware of the risks of pursuing this matter further, and recommended he accept the offer. Mr S said that he wanted to take the matter to trial to try to get more from the other side.
Mr S went to a new firm to take over the case: they had told him they thought he could get more out of the other side. When Mr S finally settled his case, it was for £30,000. He brought his complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, for the way the firm had acted on his case, and their costs.
We appreciated Mr S was unhappy with the firm’s representation but we were not in a position to question their legal opinion. As such, we could not find poor service on this matter. We did decide the firm should have told Mr S that they had paid a referral fee to his insurance company. We didn’t agree with Mr S that this showed his claim was run with a view of maximising costs, we did feel the firm should have made Mr S aware of the referral fee. As such, the ombudsman decided to award Mr S £50 compensation for this failure by the firm. Mr S rejected the remedy.