Area of law: Employment
Complaint reason(s): Failure to keep informed, failure to follow instructions, failure to advise
Remedy: None – no poor service
Outcome: Ombudsman decision rejected by complainant
Mrs A’s legal expenses insurance paid for a firm to represent her in an employment tribunal under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The firm worked on her case for a while but then told Mrs A that they couldn’t act for her any more because, in their assessment, her chances of success fell below 51%. Mrs A ended up representing herself at the tribunal.
She complained to the firm and then to use because she felt she had received poor service from the firm. She felt she has a strong case and wanted the firm to act on her behalf. She complained that she had to do a lot of the work for her tribunal herself, that the solicitor involved in her case was inexperienced and that she was refused a case conference and the solicitor kept telling her he was going to stop her acting for her, but then didn’t.
We felt that Mrs A’s complaints were more about her disagreeing with the firm’s legal opinion rather than actual failures in service. The firm sent Mrs A letters that went into great detail about the difficulty of her case. In response to Mrs A’s complaint that the firm coming off record was very confusing, they stated it had been their intention to come stop acting for her; however on each occasion Mrs A had insisted she had compelling medical evidence to support her case and so they carried on. With regards to Mrs A’s complaint about being refused a case conference, we found it was reasonable for the firm to refuse it because they felt it was unnecessary and would increase the costs for no good reason. We were also satisfied that the solicitor was fully supervised and supported throughout.
The ombudsman agreed that the firm had provided a reasonable service and that no remedy should be awarded. Mrs A disagreed with the decision.