A north-west firm has demanded an apology from an MP who described its senior partner as a ‘solicitor from hell’ during this week’s prime minister’s questions.
Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk (pictured) told the prime minister his constituent Paul Cowdrey will ‘lose his home’ to cover the costs of a complaint about local firm Keoghs, Nicholls, Lindsell & Harris.
But the firm responded with a statement on its website saying the question was ‘highly misleading’ and ‘totally unjustified’.
Cowdrey claims he was advised by the former Legal Complaints Service that he would not be liable for costs if he complained about the handling of his father’s estate.
Cowdrey has now been in dispute with the firm for more than four years and owes £127,000 to cover the costs of the complaint and a subsequent hearing.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has told the MP and Cowdrey that while it ‘might sympathise’ with his position, it is powerless to stop Keoghs, Nicholls, Lindsell & Harris enforcing the costs order.
Danczuk told the House of Commons that senior partner Michael Sandler had ‘found a loophole’ by which he could sue Cowdrey for complaining.
The MP urged David Cameron to act to stop solicitors ‘running rings’ around their regulators.
The prime minister said he would arrange a meeting between Danczuk and a justice minister to discuss what remedies are open to Cowdrey.
In a statement, Keoghs, Nicholls, Lindsell & Harris said it would seek immediate redress for the 'deeply regrettable' question.
The statement says the question was 'highly misleading by failing to draw to the attention of the house that Mr Sandler and this firm had acted lawfully and with the full approval of the courts throughout'.
The MP 'omitted mention that his constituent’s siblings were also awarded their legal costs against their brother, whose interests Mr Sandler had gone to court to protect.
‘It is disappointing and frustrating that Mr Danczuk did not contact us in advance so that we could disabuse him, and made his comments under a purported cloak of parliamentary privilege leaving us without a right of reply.
‘However, we fully intend to complain in the most robust terms to the office of the speaker of the house in order to seek Mr Danczuk’s censure and his unqualified apology.’
The firm added that it acts in the best interests of the body of beneficiaries of wills and gives effect to the wishes of the deceased.
Its statement says the firm does not charge for investigating ‘genuine complaints’ of inadequate service and always acts within the law.