Working with a solicitor should be a seamless process, as you would expect them to help you every step of the way.
However, as mentioned in my last article, there may be times when you find out that they don’t have your best interests at heart or they are not capable of carrying out what you ask. In these cases, you may need to seek recourse.
But how do you do that? That is where this article can help.
If you run into problems with a solicitor or their firm, it can be daunting, and you might feel a little nervous or even hesitant about raising a complaint. Don’t, even though they may understand the law more, you have rights, and there is support available that can help assist you.
What is a solicitor?
A solicitor is a qualified professional that has expert knowledge of the law. They usually specialise in particular areas such as personal injury, divorce, family law, or litigation, and they provide an array of legal services related to their field.
In this article, we are referring to conveyancing solicitors that specialise in property transactions and are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Understanding your rights
Thankfully, when operating within the UK legal system, you have rights, and it’s essential to understand them. Any company or individual providing legal advice in the UK has a set code of conduct that they have to adhere to, these codes are regulated and typically enforced by independent organisations such as The Law Society or Solicitors Regulatory Authority.
How to address an issue
Although most solicitors are professional and client-driven, issues can sometimes still arise. If you are unhappy with a firm or feel you have received bad advice, there are a few steps you can take.
1. Contact the firm first (cc the managing partners of the firm)
Every company has its own internal policies on dealing with complaints, and there is usually an individual in the firm that handles client issues. It is your right to request the contact information of the person in question. The firm may be able to resolve your issue requiring no additional action from you. You must set your complaint out in writing and make sure that it gets delivered to the correct individual/department.
If you are not satisfied with the response, or you feel that your complaint is being ignored, you can move to the next step.
2. Complain to the legal ombudsman (cc managing partners)
When raising a complaint, it is important to state the problem you are experiencing clearly. For example, if the issue is about a bill, poor customer service, or loss of documentation, then you should contact the Legal Ombudsman.
It can also be useful to state what you feel you have lost as a result of your solicitor’s incompetence; this can be, monetary, time, or the emotional cost via the stress involved.
3. Reporting your solicitor to the SRA (cc the managing partners)
If you believe your solicitor has not abided by the rules and regulations of their profession while advising you or has been dishonest, acted fraudulently or discriminated against you, then you need to contact SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority)
When escalating a complaint to any of the above, you will need the following:
- The name of the solicitor
- The company
- Clear written instructions that you gave to the solicitor
- The date the work was carried out
- Information about the issue: what went wrong and when
- The steps you have taken thus far to try and resolve the problem
Hopefully, as a property investor, you will only experience solicitors that are a joy and hassle-free to work with (any experienced investor will probably laugh out loud when reading that).
Unfortunately, that may not always be the case. Through the hundreds of cases, I have managed on behalf of clients, I have had multiple issues come up. Fortunately, most got resolved at step one. However, there have been cases where I had to take it to step 2 or 3.
If you have experienced or are currently experiencing problems with your legal representation, I hope this article can help.
If you need any more information or would like an opinion on your case,
Contact us here.
Article by: Rory van den Berg