My solicitor has let me down – what do I do now?

by Readers Question

10:17 AM, 7th May 2014
About 7 years ago

My solicitor has let me down – what do I do now?

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My solicitor has let me down – what do I do now?

My solicitor has let me down

After months of searching, we finally found a property deal which was exactly what we had been looking for and at £50,000 below the asking price as long as we exchanged within 28 days from our solicitor receiving the contract.

The time frame was clearly set out in the agreement sent and I also stressed the important time frame condition on instruction of my solicitor. As the deadline was drawing near, I was chasing everyone to try to get things in place, but the searches hadn’t come back and neither had the survey so the solicitor was loath to do the exchange.

All directors held a telephone meeting to discuss this situation and decided that we still wished to go ahead with the exchange without these things in place, but when I discussed this with the solicitor she said couldn’t and then in an email said……

“In view of us still awaiting the results of your local water/drainage and environmental searches, we are unlikely to be able to exchange contracts tomorrow. As I act on behalf of your lender, I am under a duty to ensure that the property provides secure borrowing which is only ascertained from clear search results. I am therefore going to write to your seller to update them of the position. I will also indicate that this delay is not indicative of your willingness to proceed and that you remain extremely keen to purchase the property”

6 days after the deadline I sent an email to the solicitor saying “…..so can we at least do the exchange before it all comes back?”

7 days after the expired deadline I was made aware that the sellers had received a higher offer, and have now pleaded with our solicitor to exchange so I wrote to my solicitor to say “….so can we now proceed to exchange please?”

5 days after this, she tells me sorry but they have just been made aware by the other side that we are now in a contract race. Two hours later we were informed that the property had been sold to the other buyers!

I am now being told that the other side didn’t adhere to the correct protocol and I hadn’t made my intentions clear that I wanted to exchange without everything in place. I know I had detailed conversations with her and gave all my reasons why we were happy to go ahead.

So where does this leave me now? Do I just pay up and walk away? The income would have been £2,400 per month with a repayment mortgage payment of £900 to come out of it.

Many thanks

Linda

Comments

Mark Alexander

10:53 AM, 12th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Linda Price" at "12/05/2014 - 10:45":

If it's not in writing then it will be a LOT more difficult to make a case for negligence.

I suggest you take a critical look at your written communications and disregard any verbal communications.

If you then still think you have a case it's time to have a chat with Mark Smith (Barrister-At-Law). I know it sounds scary to instruict a barrister, however, my recent experiences have convinced me that it's actually a lot more cost effective than instructing a solicitor. Mark Smith recently produced an article on his website which makes this point very succinctly - see >>> http://www.cotswoldbarristers.co.uk/use-direct-access-barrister/
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Ian Narbeth

11:32 AM, 12th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Linda
I think we have probably taken this as far as we can on this forum. I recommend you take professional advice and whilst I have obvious reasons for not wholeheartedly agreeing with Mark Alexander's comments about solicitors v barristers ;-), Mark Smith's charges for initial consultation look very reasonable for a barrister of his seniority.

Mark Alexander

11:53 AM, 12th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Narbeth" at "12/05/2014 - 11:32":

Very noble of you Ian.

We do need a sponsor who can submit guest articles on conveyancing, e.g. transfer of ownership between spouses for tax purposes, selling off a garden as a building plot and other examples of title splitting etc. 😉

I sincerely hope to hear from you offline to discuss this opportunity further as I value your straight approach to comments raised here and the nobility of your own comments.
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Linda Price

9:09 AM, 18th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Update - due to the fact that I am in the middle of remortgaging 4 other properties, I had to call my solicitor to put her on notice that we would have to make a formal complaint against her firm and would need to transfer the ongoing case to another solicitor.

She called me back within the hour to ask if there was any way we could avoid doing that as it would put her firm out of business. Obviously, she said any claim would be vigorously defended and she felt there was no guarantee we would get anything, but wanted to know what we would be looking for if we didn't go the formal route.

She has sent a letter to the sellers solicitors to say that her firm are considering a formal complaint against them on the basis that correct procedure had not been adhered to once her firm were made aware of a contract race (it appears that it was already a done deal with the new buyers).

None of us would feel comfortable that we had put someone out of business. I think the amount we have actually lost is far more than they can afford. Any ideas on a fair compromise?

Mark Alexander

9:41 AM, 18th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Linda Price" at "18/05/2014 - 09:09":

Hi Linda

Your solicitors should have Professional Indemnity to cover this. If they don't they should not be practising and deserve to go out of business.

If they make a claim their premiums will go up, just like any other insurance. Therefore, they need to make a commercial decision on whether to settle with you.

Remember, YOU are the aggrieved party here. Put it in the hands of a competent lawyer and he will sort it out for you. Clearly they are prepared to negotiate so employ a professional negotiator yourself - unless of course you think you are a better and more experienced negotiator than the best solicitors in their practice.

Your representative will get them to pay his costs.

I think a fair settlement figure is your losses plus your professional advisers costs associated with brokering a settlement of obtaining a judgement.

If you are happy to settle for a few grand of hush money then that's up to you. It will be quicker and you will be able to get on with your life without focussing on this any further. Given the circumstances you have outlined though, I wouldn't settle for anything less than £20k plus the cost of my legal representation. A decent barrister should be able to convince them to stump up this sort of money quite quickly. If it was to go to Court I'd screw every last penny out of them I could. I feel that if you don't employ a professional adviser they WILL screw you over - AGAIN!

Your money, your future, your choice.
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