I read with interest the complaints clinic by Adam Sampson in December.
It seems that the three headings ‘Time limits’, ‘Financial limits’ and ‘Prospective customers’ sum up the problems that solicitors have with the Legal Ombudsman.
The first two examples are clearly negligence claims. I would certainly be interested to know if the ombudsman informed Mr A that, notwithstanding that he was outside its current 12-month time limit, he would appear to have been within the six-year limitation period to sue his previous solicitors for negligence, a course which I would have expected him to follow in any event.
The second example, ‘Financial limits’, would also appear to fall squarely within the definition of solicitor negligence. In that case, of course, Mrs B would be able to recover, in principle at least, the full amount of her loss, not a proportion limited to the maximum financial award that the ombudsman can make.
The third example, headed ‘Prospective customers’, would appear to be the most obvious matter which should be dealt with by the ombudsman. This is clearly professional misconduct. However, the ombudsman is not of course able to deal with this due to the ‘prospective customers rule’.
I am sure I am not alone in finding that it is very difficult to deal with complaints that comprise allegations of negligence.
I am currently attempting to persuade my insurance company to allow me to deal with a matter which falls within these parameters and is also well under my firm’s excess with that company. I wonder whether any other practitioners have fallen foul of similar circumstances and whether there is a simple answer.
Robin A Price, Wilks Price Hounslow, Ryde, Isle of Wight