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County court claim by solicitor for a quote

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  • County court claim by solicitor for a quote

    Hi we were given the name of a solicitor and I approached him for a quotation. He was only forthcoming with figures after we signed a letter of engagement and the figures were eye watering to say the least and ranged from £5,500>£16,000. An original figure he quoted was over £1000 which we assumed was a figure for the actual work itself and which is why we signed the letter of engagement. He now states this was research/groundwork, we also believed he would offer a free consultation but in a fairly exhaustive initial telephone conversation he never advised me otherwise and must have had some idea of what costs were as he does this work all the time, my point here is that he could have quite simply advised me in this call what anticipated costs would be. I did say to him that if he chose to do any preliminary work this was at his own risk/cost and how could we be liable when he hadn't even advised us that he was charging us. He has even managed to charge around £300 overnight following an initial email and for this introductory call. Should a solicitor make it entirely clear from first point of contact what his/her charges are? He also got all his figures wrong on the claim form and has resubmitted his claim back to court and he has scribbled different figures everywhere. The claim now looks like a spider has ran across it.

    I went with an alternative lawyer who's costs were substantially less than the original solicitor I approached and who advised we didn't even need what he had previously proposed. The solicitor I originally approached then issued a county court claim for £895 which is causing us considerable stress and sleepless nights. I was advised that it is likely to be a similar cost to defend the claim. Is the original solicitor assuming that when we realise what the costs are to defend we will pay his bill. We don't understand how and why he can charge us for a quotation and how we've arrived in this position. It was clear we no more than required a quote from day one. We never signed anything or gave him any authority either written, verbal or otherwise i.e. we had no cause to and even if we were requested to sign anything we would have refused as we only required a quotation. My honest opinion is that he thought I was green because I had been referred on and he sought to take advantage. We did cobble together a 'defence' but we've now been contacted by the court that there needs to be, from what I understand, something submitted which constitutes a 'legal defence' which we are really struggling with. As I see it we signed a letter of engagement but were totally unaware of the excessive costs he was then to put forward i.e. these costs of £5,500>£16,000 were bounced back more or less by return email and he said in his email he was off on holiday and someone else would be dealing. I feel as though we've been trapped. Any help or a shove in the right direction really appreciated. Regards. Lauren
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  • #2
    We never signed anything or gave him any authority either written, verbal or otherwise i.e. we had no cause to and even if we were requested to sign anything we would have refused as we only required a quotation.
    In the beginning of your post you said that you signed a letter of engagement, so you seem to be contradicting yourself here. Alarm bells should have been ringing if he wasn't prepared to give you a quote until after you signed an engagement letter. Even still, the letter ought to have suggested at least an estimate of the cost of work to be carried out and if this information wasn't provided in the letter then the solicitorÂ*may be in breach of the SRA Code of Conduct and you could consider reporting him on that basis.Â*

    Obviously you either have to pay up or defend yourself, but in the mean time you may want to contact the SRA and make a possible complaint.Â*
    Check out some useful guides below

    A guide to voluntary termination
    Seting aside a CCJ
    Completing an N180 Form (Courtesy of Jaguarsuk)

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    LEGAL DISCLAIMER
    Please be aware that this is a public forum and is therefore accessible to anyone. The content I post on this forum is not intended to be legal advice nor does it establish any client-lawyer type relationship between you and me. Some of the content I post may include example wording, letters, or other similar responses but they are intended purely for informational and educational purposes. Using some or all of the content I post may fail to meet your needs that is specific to your situation. Therefore any use of my content is at your own risk and I cannot be held responsible in any way. It is always recommended that you seek independent legal advice and you can do this through the Law Society's Find a Solicitor database, by contacting your local Citizen's Advice Bureau or legal advice centres such as LawWorks. You may also be able to seek legal advice from your local university who may run a free (but limited) legal advice clinic to members of the public.

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    • #3
      Rob thank you for your post, time and advice. We did look at the SRA route and time lines/decisions but any outcome won't happen overnight, we will be pursuing this in due course with the SRA though. I read back through the post and what I should have said was the letter of engagement wasn't signed for about 2 weeks after we made the initial contact and in between this wasn't a flurry of emails and calls on a daily basis for 2 weeks it was perhaps 2 or 3 emails and one lengthy initial call so the letter of engagement we signed we thought was for the initial figure he gave us of around £1000. He says that in this 2 weeks after the initial call he did this, that and the other but we never requested him to do anything and/or gave written/verbal authority. I think my point is, without a legal head on, is why would anyone sign up to something without being aware of the costs (£5,500>£16,000) and that the only notification of these costs were forthcoming immediately after signing a letter of engagement i.e. in our initial call he could have said what these costs were and we would have declined his services but we were never given that opportunity. Any individual who provides a quote can't naturally assume they will get the work, if a gas fitter/plumber quotes to fit a new boiler but doesn't get the job he/she doesn't send an invoice for his/her time in preparing the quote. I can't see that there should be any difference between a solicitor or a plumber or a decorator. As well as an attempt to convert quote costs I think it may well also be sour grapes that we went elsewhere.

      Do you know if there is anywhere we could find a defence template, I know this isn't a one size fits all but I think we only need something brief such as no written/verbal contract/authority, any time/costs incurred that he chose to do of his own volition were his liability/risk. I also did a few searches and I found something re: not being entirely aware of the facts prior to signing (conclusion of) a contract (agreement) and being enticed in to a contract but I think this is more an Americanism. I still have a week (22nd) to get this back to the court so have some breathing space. Thanks again. Regards. Lauren

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