Area of law: Residential conveyancing
Complaint reason(s): Failure to keep informed
Remedy: To apologise for failing to keep complainant informed
Outcome: Ombudsman decision accepted by complainant
Ms S owned a property with her former partner. They separated and it was agreed that their property would be transferred to Ms S and her new partner. Ms S instructed the firm to take care of the transfer. Ms S agreed to pay her former partner a sum of money to pay for the dissolution of their civil partnership. The money was to be paid once the property had been transferred, and the application for dissolution made. Ms S instructed the firm to ensure that this happened.
The firm gave an undertaking to Ms S’ ex partner’s solicitor, that they would release the money as soon as the transfer was complete and the ex-partner had begun dissolution proceedings. The property transfer went smoothly. Two months later Ms S’ ex-partner confirmed that she had commenced dissolution proceedings, and the money was released to her as agreed.
Ms S was unhappy that the firm had released the money without checking with her first. She was worried that her ex may not go through with the dissolution now she had received the money. The firm explained that they had followed her original instructions and had to release the money as they had given an undertaking saying that they would.
Ms S complained that the firm hadn’t told her about the undertaking and what this would mean. She also said the firm hadn’t kept her updated about the discussions that took place with her ex-partner’s solicitor.
We investigated and said that the firm had acted reasonably in following Ms S’ clear instructions about when the payment should be made to her ex-partner. We acknowledged that the firm had not explained to Ms S about the undertaking they had given, but we said that an explanation wouldn’t have changed the fact that the money had to be released as agreed.
The ombudsman decided that the firm should apologise to Ms S for not keeping her informed about the discussions with her ex-partner’s solicitor and how the undertaking would work. Ms S accepted the decision.