Area of law: Employment
Complaint reason(s): Failure to keep informed, delay
Remedy: To refund fees, to waive unpaid fees and to pay compensation
Outcome: Ombudsman decision accepted by complainant
Mr B had been made redundant from his job. He thought he might have a case against his former employer and approached the firm for advice. The firm said that it would get a barrister’s opinion on the merits of his claim and confirmed that the deadline for issuing proceedings was three calendar months after the date he left his job.
The barrister provided his advice with a couple of days to spare but the firm didn’t contact Mr B to discuss this until the morning of the deadline. Mr B promptly contacted the Employment Tribunal and attempted to register his claim. He was shocked to be told that the timescale for submitting a claim was in fact three calendar months less one day, so he had missed the deadline by a day.
Mr B complained to the firm as soon as he realised their error. Despite exchanging numerous letters with the firm, he didn’t receive a formal response to his complaint until seven months later.
Mr B was disappointed and angry about the whole experience and asked us to investigate. We found that the firm should have known how to calculate the deadline for the claim to be issued and it really wasn’t good enough that they got this wrong. We also said that the firm failed to follow its own complaints procedure and Mr B’s complaint should have been dealt with much sooner.
The ombudsman decided that the firm should refund the fees Mr B had paid. This was because he received no benefit from the service provided, having missed the deadline to make his claim. We also said that the firm should waive the fees Mr B owed for the barrister’s opinion and pay Mr B £500 for the upset caused to him. Mr B accepted the ombudsman’s decision.