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Resolving complaints about solicitors

Examples of compensation for financial effects

The examples below will give you an indication of the amount of compensation you might receive

Example 1

Ms A asked a solicitor for advice on immigration issues. She gave the solicitor various documents, including her passport, which the solicitor then lost.

We told the solicitor to pay the costs that Ms A had to pay to get a new passport, as long as Ms A gave us evidence of the amount she had spent.

Example 2

Mrs B's disability meant that she had difficulty writing and had to use a typist to prepare her letters of complaint to the solicitor and to us.

We found several instances of poor service, including delay and failing to keep Mrs B informed of what was happening. We told the solicitor to pay the Ј460.65 typist's costs because it was reasonable for Mrs B to use a typist as a result of her disability.

Example 3

Mr C asked a solicitor to deal with his clinical-negligence case. Mr C's case was paid for with an insurance premium of Ј1995, and he had to take out a loan to pay the premium. Interest on the loan increased each day. During the case, a barrister had said that Mr C had a strong case, worth Ј2000.

The solicitor delayed in progressing the case and failed to send the case to court in time. This meant that Mr C had lost his chance to claim compensation (money) from the defendant.

We told the solicitor to pay Ј4863.51 for the insurance premium and the interest on the loan, because if the solicitor had progressed the case more quickly, Mr C would have won his case and recovered the money to pay for this.

We also awarded Mr C the Ј2000 he would have won from the defendant if the solicitor had acted more quickly. We could only do this because the barrister clearly said that Mr C had a strong case, and this had not been challenged.

Finally, we told the solicitor to pay Mr C Ј1000 compensation for his distress and inconvenience.

Examples 4 to 6 are based on real cases, but have been altered to show what we would do in a number of slightly different situations.

Example 4

Mr D bought a house in 2003 and paid the stamp duty at 1% as shown in the solicitor's completion statement. The solicitor paid the stamp duty to the Inland Revenue.

In 2005, Mr D discovered that his property was in an area where he did not have to pay stamp duty. The Inland Revenue told him that if he had acted sooner he could have applied for a repayment, but that it was now too late to recover the stamp duty.

The solicitor failed to tell Mr D that his property was in an area where he didn't have to pay stamp duty, and this poor service meant he had paid stamp duty he could not recover. We would order the solicitor to pay the stamp duty back to Mr D, as well as compensation for distress and inconvenience.

Example 5

Mr E's solicitor said that he didn't have to pay stamp duty on a house he had bought, when in fact he did have to. Mr E did not pay the stamp duty at first and found out later that he did have to.

In this situation, we would not order the solicitor to pay the stamp duty, because it had to be paid by law and the mistake could be put right by Mr E paying it.

However, if Mr E had to borrow money to pay the stamp duty, perhaps at short notice, we might tell the solicitor to pay expenses such as interest on the loan.

We would also tell the solicitor to pay compensation for Mr E's distress and inconvenience at having to pay money which he had not expected to pay.

Example 6

Mr F was choosing which property to buy and had a choice between two houses. His solicitor told him that he had to pay stamp duty on one house but not on the other. Mr F couldn't afford to pay stamp duty so he decided to buy the house which he didn't have to pay stamp duty on. He told the solicitor that this was the reason for his decision. After he bought the house he found that the solicitor had made a mistake and he had to pay stamp duty after all.

Mr F relied on the solicitor's advice when deciding which house to buy and ended up with no choice about whether to pay the stamp duty. We would tell the solicitor to pay the stamp duty, as well as compensation for distress and inconvenience.

Example 7

Ms F had a solicitor to help her when she bought a flat which had been converted from the ground floor of a house. Ms F knew from her own survey that some parts of the conversion work were not of good quality, and she had asked the solicitor for confirmation that all relevant planning permission and building regulation approval had been given. The solicitor sent her a copy of the local authority search results which did not provide the information and did not answer Ms F's question, or give her advice about this issue.

After buying the flat, Ms F found that the work did not have planning permission or building regulation approval. The solicitor arranged for the local authority to give backdated planning permission as necessary work had to be carried out. The cost of the necessary work was Ј12,200.

The solicitor had failed to tell Ms F about the lack of planning permission, and as a result Ms F had to pay expenses of Ј12,200. Ms F had provided estimates for the necessary work and had receipts to show that she had paid for it. It was too late for her to do anything apart from get the work done - she had no choice and had to pay out the money.

We ordered the solicitors to pay Ms F Ј12,200, plus Ј750 compensation for her distress and inconvenience.