Area of law: Criminal law
Complaint reason(s): Failure to follow instructions; failure to progress
Remedy: No remedy
Outcome: Ombudsman’s decision rejected by the complainant
Mr Y was convicted of a criminal offence and wanted to appeal. He felt that he had not had a fair hearing because his barrister had changed three times during the trial. The firm, which wasn’t the same firm that acted for him at the trial, met him to discuss the grounds for his appeal. The firm and the barrister they had employed agreed that Mr Y had reasonable grounds to appeal.
The firm obtained evidence from Mr Y’s former firm and the barrister was asked to draft the grounds and make the relevant applications. Leave to appeal was denied at first, so the firm discussed with Mr Y what they could do next. They went on to gather more evidence in support of his appeal.
Mr Y then requested changes to the grounds of appeal. By this point the outstanding costs were beginning to mount up and the firm asked for Mr Y to pay them before they did any more work. Mr Y said he wasn’t happy with the work the firm had done and wouldn’t pay until they made the amendments. The firm asked the court for an adjournment to allow these issues to be resolved, which was granted, however Mr Y was so unhappy that he remained reluctant to pay the firm unless they amended his appeal grounds first. He then told the firm that he did not want them to work for him anymore.
In his complaint he explained that he felt the firm had not handled his appeal properly and had failed to represent him. We found that the firm had behaved reasonably throughout the matter and that no remedy should be awarded to Mr Y. The ombudsman agreed with this but Mr Y rejected the decision.