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Sue divorce solicitor

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Hello,

I've posted on here about a protracted divorce, it is finally near to a conclusion.  This I have managed to finalise myself.  I withdrew from my solicitor's services 2.5 years ago as I felt they had not been particularly helpful, and I had ran out of money.  I will lose out on a large sum of money as they made an error at the start of the divorce, the choice of jurisdiction.  I have contacted the solicitor with a detail of my complaint.  A partner from a different branch has reviewed it and answered around it but did not acknowledge my point of complaint.  I have responded saying I will be replying in due course.  The solicitor who represented me is a partner and described as an expert in family law.  They have made a fundamental error by not checking the difference between Scottish and English law in divorce.  Something that did not take me long to look up.

What I would like to know is where do I go from here.  I'm aware of the Legal Ombudsman but I believe the compensation is capped?  I have a shortfall of at least £100k.  Can I sue them myself or do I need to take on another professional?

Any advice, examples or guidance greatly received. 

Thank you.
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  • edited 29 April at 1:29PM
    pphillipspphillips Forumite
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    edited 29 April at 1:29PM
    The legal ombudsman has a £50,000 limit with a few exceptions relating to the reduction of excessive fees, interest and expenses pursuing the complaint.

    You can take a case to court yourself but it's important to be familiar with the civil procedure rules and practice directions relating to the relevant track (usually determined by the value of the claim).

    You'll also be expected to follow the pre action protocol, this would usually mean sending a letter before action before you take the firm to court.
  • Scottish_DorsetScottish_Dorset Forumite
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    Thank you pphillips.  This isn't about excessive fees but about professional negligence.  I'll look ups the procedures for civil cases. 

    Has anyone successfully sued their solicitor?

    Thanks in advance.
  • edited 2 May at 4:03PM
    pphillipspphillips Forumite
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    edited 2 May at 4:03PM
    Yes, there are many cases where solicitors have been sued successfully. Here are some examples: https://www.thelawyerportal.com/blog/the-most-common-examples-of-solicitor-negligence/

    However, what really matters is whether the solicitors owed you a duty of care, they acted (or failed to act) in breach of that duty, and that breach was the cause of your loss. The first of these ("duty of care") is easy to establish but if you cannot establish the other two, your claim will fail.
  • SandtreeSandtree Forumite
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    I have a shortfall of at least £100k.  Can I sue them myself or do I need to take on another professional?

    There is no legal requirement for you to have a solicitor/barrister if you don't want one, though in some circumstances there are limits to who can represent you if you want someone to who isn't a barrister... you can always represent yourself.

    Anything over £25k will normally get assigned to the multi-track of the CPR which in total means fees are high (£4,500 for a £100k claim if done online) and the loser will have to pay a substantial proportion of the counterparty's legal costs. 

  • edited 3 May at 3:36PM
    pphillipspphillips Forumite
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    edited 3 May at 3:36PM
    Sandtree said:
    I have a shortfall of at least £100k.  Can I sue them myself or do I need to take on another professional?

    Anything over £25k will normally get assigned to the multi-track of the CPR which in total means fees are high (£4,500 for a £100k claim if done online) and the loser will have to pay a substantial proportion of the counterparty's legal costs. 

    The general rule is that the loser pays the winner's reasonable costs, but it's at the court's discretion and there are different cost rules after a valid part 36 offer has been made depending on the outcome at trial.
  • SandtreeSandtree Forumite
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    pphillips said:
    Sandtree said:
    I have a shortfall of at least £100k.  Can I sue them myself or do I need to take on another professional?

    Anything over £25k will normally get assigned to the multi-track of the CPR which in total means fees are high (£4,500 for a £100k claim if done online) and the loser will have to pay a substantial proportion of the counterparty's legal costs. 

    The general rule is that the loser pays the winner's reasonable costs, but it's at the court's discretion and there are different cost rules after a valid part 36 offer has been made depending on the outcome at trial.
    Absolutely right though maybe excessive info on something just intended to be a warning about suing for a 6 figure sum without legal advice.
  • pphillipspphillips Forumite
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    Sandtree said:
    Absolutely right though maybe excessive info on something just intended to be a warning about suing for a 6 figure sum without legal advice.
    I think your post is excessive info when you could have just clicked on the "👍 Thanks" button.
  • Scottish_DorsetScottish_Dorset Forumite
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    pphillips said:
    Yes, there are many cases where solicitors have been sued successfully. Here are some examples: https://www.thelawyerportal.com/blog/the-most-common-examples-of-solicitor-negligence/

    However, what really matters is whether the solicitors owed you a duty of care, they acted (or failed to act) in breach of that duty, and that breach was the cause of your loss. The first of these ("duty of care") is easy to establish but if you cannot establish the other two, your claim will fail.
    Thank you both, I will look in to these matters.  

    With regards to the duty of care and breach which caused the loss, I think this can be proved through the written correspondence between myself, the solicitor and my ex's solicitor.  We were married in England, lived our married life in England, all assets and income earned in England.  Ex moved to Scotland and proceeded with divorce from there 5 years after moving.  The assets have have gone up dramatically during this time.  My solicitor said it would be better to accept divorce in Scottish law because of the 50/50 starting point.  What she failed to recognise is that marital assets are valued at the point of separation, ie back in 2011, NOT at current valuation when the divorce is looking at the finances.  My ex has valuable pensions which have massively increased.  The pensions were earned during our marriage whilst my ex was still living and working in England.   I can only get maximum 50% of the pensions valued at that date.  They have increased in value by at least £300k since the separation and the start of the divorce.  Other marital assets such as the family home were split 50/50.  

    In my initial complaint to my solicitor, the responding partner talked all around my complaint but did not mention my actual point of the difference the choice of jurisdiction has made.  She recommended Scottish law, saying it would by far be in my favour.  I think I have a strong case.  I just want to put it together correctly to have the best possible case.  

  • edited 4 May at 12:22PM
    pphillipspphillips Forumite
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    edited 4 May at 12:22PM
    pphillips said:
    Yes, there are many cases where solicitors have been sued successfully. Here are some examples: https://www.thelawyerportal.com/blog/the-most-common-examples-of-solicitor-negligence/

    However, what really matters is whether the solicitors owed you a duty of care, they acted (or failed to act) in breach of that duty, and that breach was the cause of your loss. The first of these ("duty of care") is easy to establish but if you cannot establish the other two, your claim will fail.
    Thank you both, I will look in to these matters.  

    With regards to the duty of care and breach which caused the loss, I think this can be proved through the written correspondence between myself, the solicitor and my ex's solicitor.  We were married in England, lived our married life in England, all assets and income earned in England.  Ex moved to Scotland and proceeded with divorce from there 5 years after moving.  The assets have have gone up dramatically during this time.  My solicitor said it would be better to accept divorce in Scottish law because of the 50/50 starting point.  What she failed to recognise is that marital assets are valued at the point of separation, ie back in 2011, NOT at current valuation when the divorce is looking at the finances.  My ex has valuable pensions which have massively increased.  The pensions were earned during our marriage whilst my ex was still living and working in England.   I can only get maximum 50% of the pensions valued at that date.  They have increased in value by at least £300k since the separation and the start of the divorce.  Other marital assets such as the family home were split 50/50.  

    In my initial complaint to my solicitor, the responding partner talked all around my complaint but did not mention my actual point of the difference the choice of jurisdiction has made.  She recommended Scottish law, saying it would by far be in my favour.  I think I have a strong case.  I just want to put it together correctly to have the best possible case.  

    It seems that you might have a good case provided your claim is still within the time limit. However, the difficulty you have is recovering purely economic loss due to professional negligence. I therefore think you should claim for both negligence and breach of contract because otherwise you might find that,  without a contractual claim, your claim is dismissed or you recover less damages.

    In consumer contracts Section 49 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 inserts an implied term that provides for a service to be carried out "with reasonable care and skill" but it seems the firm acted in breach of the statutory term. Similar to negligence, in a breach of contract claim you must show that there was a contract, the firm breached the contract and that breach was the cause of your loss.
  • Scottish_DorsetScottish_Dorset Forumite
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    Thank you so much @pphillips.  I think I am within the time scale.  After dismissing their services, I emailed within 2 years to say I wished to complain about their service.  They took a long time to reply, approximately 2-3 months.  I have replied saying I wish to pursue with my complaint and I will correspond in due course.  So hopefully I have started it and keeping it 'live'.

    I will look into your suggestions above, this is very helpful and very much appreciated.  Hopefully once I gather the evidence I can put this together and find a way to proceed.
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