Solicitor Costs - Lousy Legal Representation Part 2

Lousy Legal Representation Part 2. When BD first contacted us she was looking at losing her business, being evicted from her business premises and being made bankrupt by her former solicitors for non-payment of bills/invoices for work done, on her instructions to sort out her business tenancy issues. She was worried about incurring further costs, but we came highly recommended by a friend of hers, so she placed her trust in us.

The former solicitors had issued a statutory demand in respect of their bills, the preliminary step to making someone bankrupt. BD wanted to challenge the amount of the bills by way of assessment by the Court. The solicitors refused to agree to this claiming that as the bills were over 1 year old there was no right to assessment. We pointed out to the solicitors that their bills were not valid, as they did not comply with certain legal requirements, and therefore they had never been entitled to issue a statutory demand. The solicitors agreed to setting aside the statutory demand and paying all of BD’s costs of the issue.

We then sought to deal with the business tenancy issue, the reason why the previous solicitors had been appointed in the first place. We negotiated with the landlord on BD’s behalf and obtained an agreement that she would be provided with a new lease with a fixed rent, inclusive of all outgoings for utilities, and that the landlord would be responsible for maintaining all common parts of the premises.

Finally, we sought to address the amount of legal charges BD should pay her former solicitors. They issued a final invoice for just over £11,200, having “generously” reduced this from the £15,000 they said they were owed. We asked to see their file of papers to enable us to assess the amount we felt should be paid but they refused. By this stage the client had paid £2,700.

We wrote to the former solicitors on BD’s behalf proposing that they keep the money they had already received and regard this as full and final settlement of the client’s liability. We also told them what would happen if they did not accept. Among other things it appeared that the solicitors had:

  • not done the job they were instructed to do;
  • double, or in some cases triple, billed for work;
  • charged for time spent looking up what they were supposed to be doing;
  • charged a higher hourly rate than had been agreed;
  • quoted fixed fees and then charged for more on a time basis;
  • charged for work after the client had sacked them; and
  • charged for a trainee sitting in on meetings as part of their training.

The solicitors ignored us. On the client’s instructions, we issued a claim for detailed assessment of those solicitors’ costs. They then accepted the offer late and agreed to pay all of the client’s costs incurred as a result of the late acceptance.

The client's bill was reduced by £12,300 (82%) overall. How much did the client end up paying us to sort out all of the costs issues? £1,068.18 (inc. VAT).

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