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URGENT: How to I deal with a defensive solicitor.

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  • URGENT: How to I deal with a defensive solicitor.

    Short version:
    We have paid a solicitor in 2 installments to do 2 things.
    He came well recommended and did part 1 very well.
    Now we are onto part 2, and he has been paid a life-changing amount of money. ALL family savings, and ALL my business capital. We're talking new car prices.
    But while he was very insistent that all his lengthy client engagement forms were signed and money paid in full promptly, it is now over 6 weeks since instructed and he has suddenly become very thin skinned when asked a few simple questions.
    "What has been done, what is happening now, what is the next cut-off date for the submissions to court".

    It would have taken him 5 minutes to answer, but he insisted on a Zoom. Again, I just very politely said that in this instance I'd prefer things in writing so that we're all on the same page.
    Although I didn't say this, the fact is I've been bitten hard - REALLY hard - by 3 solicitors before, when things have been said and not done. And I mean life-changing cock-ups involving criminal records with no redress because I had trusted someone to do what they said they would. (Again, to stress, I didn't say that last part in my email).

    What came back was a lengthy email about how upset he was as my email could be interpreted as having an accusatory tone, and then he went on to list all the things he'd done in part 1, which I didn't even ask about!
    Again, he refused to answer the simple questions about cut-off dates, and offered me a Zoom or nothing.

    Sorry, but I'm not paying 360 per hour to massage someone's hurty feels. Given that this money has been paid and he's all I've got (and he has a good reputation) how the hell do I go forward with this?
    Tags: None

  • #2
    I would suggest try to calm down, sleep on it, then try to rebuild your solicitor / client relationship because at the end of the day the only loser will be you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well, that much is implied in the post - but the question is HOW do you make it clear, for a third time, that you really need dates in writing?

      Again, this is a commercial client/solicitor relationship where the terminology is based around the words "instruct" and "advise".

      I am instructing my solicitor to advise me of the key upcoming court dates in writing, which he has not done previously, and I am concerned that a date will slip.

      I am more concerned for the reasons that he is flatly refusing to put things in writing, when he was so keen that all agreements to HIS terms should be in writing.

      Comment


      • #4
        I sympathise with your situation but unfortunately I can offer no suggestions other than complain to the solicitors regulation authority which will do nothing to heal the rift but ultimately may be your only redress.

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        • #5
          No-where near that. It's not that I'm unhappy with what he's done so far, and his reputation is good. What is really causing me confusion is why he is point-blank refusing to give me really straight answers to fact-based questions like:

          "When is the cut-off date for submission to the hearing in February?".
          Why does his reply require half a side of A4 about how offended he is that my email could be perceived as not trusting him, which surely an answer like "Jan 12th" would be quicker for him?

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          • #6
            Take him out to lunch and have a quiet word.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by EnglandPi View Post
              Take him out to lunch and have a quiet word.
              May I sugest a very nice Scotch

              Comment


              • #8
                Or agree to zoom and record the call for your own use?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Not sure if "taking to lunch" suggestion was serious, but I cannot think of any other walk of life where one pays someone 18k to do a job, and then you have to feed them as well to get them to do the work, (even though I am the one on Universal Credit.)

                  Now I'm getting even more concerned as the solicitor is not persuing any of the other matters.

                  For example, when I first engaged him 2 months ago, he gave me a list of problems he'd get straight onto with the remand, wrongly cancelled bail hearing, failure to release on time (I was held unlawfully for an extra night after release on bail due to paperwork getting lost by court) etc.

                  In addition, my ex changed my son's surname on school records without permission (in direct violation of a family court order, Children Act and Education Act). Note: The school apologised for the error and have now reverted it, but that's not the point.

                  But solicitor is now saying I shouldn't bring any of that to the attention of any court or police until after sentence next month because "the judge has to make risk assessment through reading the PSR. If he believes there will be a lack of co-operation with any order the court imposes, the best evidence of that would be the knowledge that we have already started to challenge your ex through the family courts".

                  The fact is, she broke the same order that she used to get me arrested. Surely if we left all the for another month, then the first question they'd ask is "why didn't you report this earlier?".

                  Am I being jerked around or is this normal?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How frustrating and annoying for you. Where is sentencing? Mags? Is it a breach of a restraining order or similar? DId the partner "trick" you into breaking the order? I would think the circumstances and the unlawful detention would be brought to the attention of whoever is sentencing on the day as they have an impact potentially on the sentence. The chaging of surname etc not so much. You just need all this explaining to you. Can you arrange to meet either your solicitor or even a more junior member of staff to go through your concerns?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The charge was breach of non-mol and breach of restraining order by 12 second brief interaction when I bumped into son in busy street, but because "she" was there, she claimed breach of restraining order against her even though all evidence showed I didn't even glance at her while I briefly spoke to son and then continued on.

                      I chose Crown so that, at last, "she" would be put on the stand to answer questions.

                      However, the CPS basically bullied me into a hobson's choice - I wanted to plead guilty to speaking to son, but not guilty to speaking to mother, but they made it clear that if I did that, I'd almost certainly get found technically guilty and go to prison, but if I pleaded guilty to both, they'd drop one and promise no prison time in exchange for not putting their witness on the stand. And having sold my soul and chance to clear my name in having agreed that deal, the solicitor is now saying that it's dependent on me basically shutting up and not daring to put up any kind of defence, excuse or complaint against the mother's behaviour before the sentencing.

                      I thought it was interesting that in a near-identical situation last year, she hadn't made a fuss, but this time round it was just after she found out that I'd found out that she'd changed his name at school, so of course, that's her pushback. So blatant, I thought a jury would see right through it.

                      And yes, I can talk to the solicitor via Zoom all day if I like, but nothing will get followed up in writing or actually done. I have a feeling the solicitor and his barrister are taking the "easy win" option for them, rather than fighting for me. After all, this way: "Look, another client kept out of prison!" (but a criminal forever), vs "We fought but lost".

                      They also told me I'd have < 15% chance of jury finding me not guilty with the mitigating circumstances because there was video evidence (which showed a non-threatening, brief interaction exactly as I described it). And yet now I see the Colston 4 and other protest groups getting cleared, despite 100% clear video evidence of criminal damage etc.

                      I even thought about reneging my plea, but the solicitor said it would "professionally embarrass" him and he'd withdraw. So I'd be trying to find someone to represent with 3 weeks to go.

                      Absolute nightmare. Many sleepless nights under my belt!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well I have no idea why the solicitor let you choose crown. We see this kind of stuff in mags all the time. Yes you have to plead guilty but the mitigation is what happened. Go to prison? I think not (unless you have a long record and have broken the order previously). Do not buy the "keep out of prison" line - this is a minor offence in the real world unless made more serious by lots of previous breaches and domestic violence etc. Your solicior was right though - you are guilty. At a mags sentencing hearing the prosecution say what happened and the defence make a strong robust argument as to WHY it happened (and explain as you have above). They say you are of good character (if you are) and even wanted to plead not guilty as you spoke only to the son but that you were advised you are technically guilty so have been happy to make that plea in the circumstances. It is the solicitor who would speak for you and offer the mitigation before sentencing. You would not believe how often we see ex partners ringing up the other party and persuading them to come round and then calling the Police..we do know what goes on in the real world whilst of course seeking to protect those in fear from ex partners of whom we also see many. Other than what happens in court what do you want the solicitor to do at this stage? He should be willing to tell you what mitigation he will offer that is for sure.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by islandgirl View Post
                          Well I have no idea why the solicitor let you choose crown. Other than what happens in court what do you want the solicitor to do at this stage? He should be willing to tell you what mitigation he will offer that is for sure.

                          The problem is that I originally had a fully funded legal aid solicitor. THEY had told me that as I had an "either way", I should opt for Crown and plead "not guilty", so there would be a proper trial she would get properly questioned. When that first solicitor failed to act when I got remanded and I did not have any access to my solicitor on remand for 5 days, concerned friends and family found a different solicitor to bust me out of prison.

                          Then, these new solicitors basically said "go for guilty instead otherwise you may go back to prison". So now I am in a situation where I have opted to be in a place which can give me a harsher sentence, but with the whole purpose of that choice now being removed.

                          I have this gut feeling that neither are doing me justice, and I'm thinking of getting written advice from a direct access barrister, just simply giving him the prosecution docs, the CPS "bribe" deal, and seeing if he thinks I have been correctly adviced by either. Any idea what I should be paying for that "second opinion"?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I find it surprising you were on remand for 5 days - is there a history of breaking conditions? I don't get the sequence of events - the incident happened, you saw a solicitor, then you were remanded then got a new solicitor to get you out of prison...just a bit confused. You can contact a direct access barrister and ask for an idea of fees but if you want them to appear for you at crown it will be very expensieve. A good local soclitior with experience in this area may be a better bet?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by islandgirl View Post
                              I find it surprising you were on remand for 5 days - is there a history of breaking conditions? I don't get the sequence of events - the incident happened, you saw a solicitor, then you were remanded then got a new solicitor to get you out of prison...just a bit confused. You can contact a direct access barrister and ask for an idea of fees but if you want them to appear for you at crown it will be very expensieve. A good local soclitior with experience in this area may be a better bet?
                              And that I agree with, as to me it seems Justice will not be done.

                              Comment

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