Summary 5

Summary 5

strong>Area of law: Family law (divorce)

Complaint reason(s): Failure to advise; failure to progress

Remedy: None – no poor service

Outcome: Ombudsman’s decision rejected by the complainant

Mr D employed a firm of solicitors to represent him during his divorce. The court issued a provisional order dissolving the marriage, the decree nisi. Mr and Mrs D needed to agree how they would divide up their assets – their money and property – before the divorce could be finalised with a decree absolute. Mrs D challenged her husband’s account of his assets because she believed he was trying to cheat her out of her fair share.

Mrs D’s persistence in making claims against Mr D led to long delays: the legal costs kept increasing and a year passed and the divorce still hadn’t been finalised. Mr D blamed his lawyers and complained that they hadn’t kept him informed of progress, or lack of it, and hadn’t dealt effectively with Mrs D’s allegations. He wanted them to refund half of their fees (well over £5,000).

The investigator looked at all the evidence and found that the firm had kept Mr D informed about what was going on. We saw that Mr D had agreed with the firm’s next steps at each stage and that the firm had made progress despite the delays caused by his wife’s claims. We also saw evidence that the firm had responded to those claims early on. We concluded that Mr D’s dissatisfaction was more to do with delays caused by the other side than with any poor service from the firm. No remedy was therefore justified. The Ombudsman agreed with these findings. Mr D didn’t respond to the decision, so we treated it as rejected and closed the
case.