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Solicitors referring us to Debt Recovery for work they did not do?

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  • Solicitors referring us to Debt Recovery for work they did not do?

    We agreed a price at the beginning and a date with solicitors to create a lasting will & testament for our grandparents.

    My grandparents are both disabled so it is very difficult to get to the solicitors, they presented themselves once to the solicitors to give their instructions for drawing up a Will & Testament, it was agreed that the remaining outstanding information required for the Will and Testament would be transmitted by phone or e-mail. A few days later my grandparents decided to remove 3 persons from the Will (a very small change) so the solicitors were contacted by phone to make the change before drawing up the document but they said it is not possible to do this over the phone and that they'd have to come in again. Subsequently the solicitors did not reply for several weeks despite constant calling and finally after a period of 2 months (of not being able to see the solicitors) they increased the agreed price. For this reason and the above my grandparents had had enough as they couldn't move forward and we wrote to them to tell them of this and that we would not be continuing with them.

    In short they did not provide the service and no written agreement was made.

    Recently my grandparents have received warning letters from the solicitors of outstanding charges of £120 and have been told now that they are being referred to debt recovery.

    What should we do in this situation since it is my grandparents that have been messed around by these solicitors who did not provide a service? I had the displeasure of finding out via google that these solicitors have a rock bottom reputation and now I know why.
    Last edited by Lenovo; 3rd May 2019, 18:44:PM.
    Tags: None

  • Peridot
    replied
    Hi Lenovo,

    So the quote for £120 was for amendments that were requested on existing wills. Unfortunately it would not be possible for hand amendments to be made to an existing Will without signing and witnesses being present, so it is usual to draft the Will incorporating the changes that have been requested. It is also necessary for professional preparing the Will to be sure they are receiving the individuals instructions and that they understand what is being requested and this is their decision. I'm not suggesting the changes were not your grandparents decision but there are regulatory requirements and practice guidelines that have to be followed in will preparation (and amendments). It is unfortunate the firm were not so hot on their other regulatory obligations they are expected to comply with such as client care!
    In order to prepare new Wills (or redraft changes) the firm should open a file and should prepare client care letters, terms of business and quotes as well as checking the client's id, also a requirement. In practice Wills should then be produced within 2 weeks of meeting a client which is probably why they have mentioned that timescale? Can the firm produce copies of what was allegedly sent to your grandparents?
    Has there been any response to their formal complaint yet?
    Once they receive a response to their complaint and depending on its content there may be other avenues open to them such as a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman but they need to make an official complaint to the firm initially.
    It sounds like your grandparents have not had a good experience and I'm glad they have found alternative lawyers to prepare the Wills.

    Leave a comment:


  • Lenovo
    replied
    Thank you for the replies, I have been away so unable to respond until now.

    Were your grandparents given a copy of the solicitors Terms and Conditions?
    No they were not given a copy.

    Were they given an estimate of how much it would cost prior to instructing them?
    Yes they were, it was agreed.

    Have they been told how to make a complaint ?
    I believe so, forms were sent.

    From what you have indicated they had been provided with a price as you mention they then increased the price following the request for changes although small. It would appear that the solicitor has drafted the Will having taken initial instructions that your grandparents have then considered and requested changes too.
    I spoke to my grandparents and mother again and this is not how it happened. In fact this was a request for an amendment to an existing will which was done in the same office before they got taken over by other solicitors (years before). We know no work was done by the solicitors, they claimed to have sent out drafts within the first 2 weeks which they didn't, we then had 14 exchanges of e-mails and phone calls for months to even make an appointment with our grandparents to see them. The last e-mail message to my mother who was organising this was that they should come in to write the whole draft on the spot afresh with a new increased price, the increased price was not about the original changes although small but writing a whole new will (btw those changes involved no writing at all but crossing out of names and addresses so why a new will was required was beyond us), this was not what we agreed from the outset.

    My grandparents subsequently had no choice but to make a new Will & Testament with other solicitors who were not cowboys, although they were more expensive (all done within a couple of weeks I might add!)

    Leave a comment:


  • Peridot
    replied
    Hi Lenovo,
    Sorry to hear your grandparents have had such a poor experience. From what you have indicated they had been provided with a price as you mention they then increased the price following the request for changes although small. It would appear that the solicitor has drafted the Will having taken initial instructions that your grandparents have then considered and requested changes too.
    The solicitor would be entitled to payment for the work they have carried out although if the service has been poor it would be worth making a formal complaint. This may reduce the fee or maybe an arrangement could be reached to at least get their wills finalised?
    It is quite usual when preparing wills to insist on seeing the individuals to take the instructions although minor changes can be taken over the phone, provided the lawyer is seeing the person again to finalise and sign the Will to ensure the Will is understood and are genuinely the individuals wishes.
    Has a formal complaint been made to the firm yet by your grandparents? It would be worth asking for their complaints procedure to get this underway.

    Leave a comment:


  • des8
    replied
    Were your grandparents given a copy of the solicitors Terms and Conditions?
    Were they given an estimate of how much it would cost prior to instructing them?
    Have they been told how to make a complaint ?

    Perhaps the solicitors have carried out some of the initial work.

    Tagging Peridot who will have more insight into this sort of situation, but she possibly won't be on until after the weekend.

    Leave a comment:


  • Lenovo
    replied
    They have not paid anything.

    Initially they were meant to come in to give their instructions, and were told the rest of the details on the Will & Testament could occur over the phone, they could then come in again to sign and pay once the WIll & Testament was drawn up. The solicitors then told them (as in OP above) the rest could not occur over the phone as they had been told previously and after weeks of calling the solicitors to no avail to come in again eventually after 2 months they raised the agreed price by which point my grandparents had had enough. They claim this fee is for writing up the Will & Testament which is obviously nonsense as they did not have complete information and were instructed to stop by e-mail.

    I wish I had read google reviews before, this is a very unprofessional outfit.

    Yes they are threatening to go to the County Court.

    Leave a comment:


  • des8
    replied
    Have your Grandparents paid anything at all to the solicitors?

    They did have an initial consultation.... was that free of charge?

    Solicitors often write letters which point out in a very bald way what can happen if one does not pay their bill.
    Some find these letters threatening (and they are so designed), but they may also be informative as to what can happen in extreme cases.
    For example a third party debt order can only be obtained if the creditor has obtained a County Court Judgement and the debtor has failed to make payment as per the court order.

    Leave a comment:


  • Lenovo
    replied
    So they have referred us to their "Debt Recovery Department", which are threatening my grandparents with immediate proceedings in the County Court.

    They are also threatening them with bailiffs as well as a third party debt order to freeze bank accounts and/or a charging order to secure the debt against their property.

    Leave a comment:


  • charitynjw
    replied
    Hi

    now that they are being referred to debt recovery.
    What exactly are they threatening here?
    A debt collection agency?

    Leave a comment:

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