Click on the questions to view the answers.
Bill, my bill is getting bigger am I entitled to be informed?
Not only are you entitled to be informed, but under professional rules your solicitor is obliged to keep you so informed and at interval of no more than six months. In some case it will be necessary to provide you with information more frequently
Client Care Letter, what is this?
Often referred to as a terms of engagement letter, every solicitor is bound by professional rules to write to you as soon as possible after being instructed to confirm the terms of engagement, their costs arrangements and to inform you of action you may take if you are unhappy with the quality of its professional service. There are sum matters where a fixed price can be quoted and if it is so quoted the firm cannot charge you any more. Many matters are impossible to accurately cost in advance as so much may depend on the other side, but the firm should still be able to give you a very clear estimate of their likely costs on a “stage by stage“ basis, i.e. by informing you that work up to a certain point will cost £X at which point a costs risk / benefit analysis will be undertaken. If you are not provided with a detailed terms of engagement letter you may not be liable to pay any fees to the solicitor
Complaint - How do I complain about my Solicitors Professional Service?
In the first instance you should write a formal letter to the Client Care Partner at the firm involved. You should state clearly and concisely what the complaint relates to. You should give them a date by which you require a response but this must be reasonable. They must have time to look in to your complaint properly. I would suggest a response date of two weeks from the date on the letter. You should keep a copy of the letter that you have sent. The name of the Client Care Partner should be on the Client Care letter that you will have been given when the solicitor was first instructed. If you have lost the letter and do not know the name, please address it to the Client Care Partner so that it is dealt with by the appropriate person. In most cases a complaint can be successfully resolved at this stage.
If you do not receive a response in the time specified, or are dissatisfied with the response, you can complain to the Legal Ombudsman who has the power to investigate your complaint. It is important however that you have followed the first stage of the complaints procedure properly or the Legal Ombudsman will direct you to do so before getting involved. The Legal Ombudsman does not take sides but will investigate your complaint in a fair and independent way. You can contact the Legal Ombudsman by telephone on 0300 555 0333 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Legal Ombudsman will also be able to advise you if you should report the matter to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). This is the organisation that regulates solicitors and deals with serious misconduct by solicitors.
The Nottinghamshire Law Society is not a regulatory body and has no powers to investigate solicitors but I hope that the information we have provided will prove helpful to you in seeking to resolve your complaint.
Conditional Fee agreement (CFA) what is this?
Often referred to as a “No Win – No Fee” agreement the CFA allows your solicitor to take your case on risk and the firm will only get paid if you win your case. Firms have a duty to make a careful risk assessment before taking the matter on. The basis of the Agreement is that if successful your solicitor’s costs will be met by the losing party. Because the firm took you on risk they will be entitled to a percentage mark up to receive extra costs if they win. This sum is often paid by the losing party but may have to come out of the money you have been awarded. The percentage is a percentage of the fees not a percentage of your damages. You should request a full explanation form your solicitor before embarking on a case and make sure you are fully aware of what you arte doing.
Cost risk / benefit analysis, what is this?
Every solicitor is obliged to consider with care the amount which he seeks as costs against the likely benefit to you in pursuing as matter and to give you advice in writing as soon as possible to enable you to make a considered judgement as to whether or not you want to continue your case. For example, there is no point in spending £1000 to recover £300.. If a matter is simply not worth the expense you solicitor must tell you and if he/she fails to do so you may not have to pay for wasted time.
How do I find a Solicitor to help me in my present problem?
Go to our website (www.nottslawsoc.org) and open the front page. On the left hand side you will find the Main Menu. Click on the second item down (Find a Solicitor), and a large green box will appear. Inside the box you will find a number of legal topics and disciplines. Click on the one which suits your problem the best and you will find a list of Solicitors on Nottingham and Nottinghamshire who claim specialty in the topic concerned. Most have a direct link to their own websites.
Legal Aid, can I get help?
Legal Aid is much restricted and available for very few legal disciplines. You must ask the solicitor of your choice if his/her firm have a legal aid contract for the type of work you require. However there are a number of funding options including, if you have a household Insurance Policy, Legal Expenses Cover through the policy. You may be entitled to funding if you are a member of a Trade Union. Always ask. Solicitors have a duty under their rules of Professional Conduct to consider all possible funding sources when taking your case on to their books.
Neighbour disputes - I have problems with my neighbours how do I find a solicitor to help me?
Click the following here to search for a solicitor, go to "extended search option, select "neighbours" in "Select Category", then press "Search" this will bring up the firms that help with neighbour disputes.
Professional Misconduct Complaint, what is it?
Quite different from a Professional Service complaint. You do not have to be a client of the solicitor concerned. The complaint is made to The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The complaint will be against a specific solicitor and not his or her firm and will involve a breach of professional rules, usually a technical matter where you may wish to seek legal advice in advance. There is no compensation payable as a result and the SRA may impose an appropriate sanction which includes a financial penalty. The Solicitor concerned may also be referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, an independent statutory body which may impose very severe penalties including suspension and removal form the roll (striking off).