Area of law: Family law
Complaint reason(s): Other
Remedy: To pay compensation for emotional impact and/or disruption caused
Outcome: Ombudsman’s decision rejected by complainant
The firm represented Mrs U in court in connection with proceedings to recover unpaid maintenance from her ex-husband. The firm appointed a barrister to represent her at court. The barrister was supposed to attend court at nine o’clock so that he and Mrs U could go through the case together. He turned up an hour later, just before they were due to go in. He didn’t call either Mrs U or her solicitor to tell them he was running late. This meant there was no opportunity to discuss the case.
Mrs U complains that the barrister’s chambers want her to pay his outstanding fees. Mrs U is not happy about this. She wants compensation. When we investigated, we found that the barrister’s lateness didn’t affect the hearing: Mrs U’s ex-husband simply failed to increase what he was paying. However, the barrister should have made some attempt to contact Mrs U, either through the firm or through the court, to reassure her that he was on his way. The ombudsman decided that the barrister should pay Mrs U £100 in recognition of the upset caused by his failure to try to let her know that he had been delayed. Otherwise, the service he provided to her in representing her at the hearing was reasonable. Mrs U rejected this decision.