Home > Legal > Duty of Care: When Your Solicitor Won't Contact You

Duty of Care: When Your Solicitor Won't Contact You

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 2 Jan 2017 |
 
Solicitor Complaint Family Case Court

Most people hope that they never have to deal with lawyers, but when it comes to divorce, separation and contact with your kids, it can feel like your whole life becomes dictated by your solicitor’s diary. When you find yourself separated from your children, you naturally want your Family Lawyer to be competent, attentive and always to act in your best interests. Sadly, this is not always the case.

A Solicitor’s Duty

A solicitor’s duty is to his or her client, and not to do anything that is likely to damage the interests of the client. There are exceptions to this, such as the duty of solicitors to disclose suspicions of money laundering by their clients. In these circumstances, the solicitor can go to prison if they fail to report their client’s illegal activity, if it is subsequently discovered.

That said, you may want your solicitor to telephone someone on your behalf, to ‘give them a piece of your mind’ or to act in a particular way that you feel would ‘get them back’. This isn’t always in your best interests and may jeopardise your position later on, which is why your solicitor may not do what you ask them to do.

No Response To Your Requests?

Given the sensitivity of family cases, it can be easy to come to the conclusions that your solicitor does not sufficiently care about your case. Family Legal Aid is funded by a fixed fee, which means that no matter how much work your solicitor does on your case, initially they will only be paid a (fairly modest) amount. In very busy solicitors’ firms, you may be one of 300 cases that the solicitors deal with. While your case will be important, it may be very difficult for your solicitor to be able to speak to you when you telephone them. They may be talking to other clients or preparing a case for court.

Solicitors have different styles of doing business. Some may be experts on the law but seem emotionally detached from your case, whereas others may be very person-oriented and be very interested in the factual and emotional aspects of your case. Because of caseload, solicitors tend to prioritise their work. As a result, a client whose case is currently ongoing and who does not have a ‘deadline’ as such, will inevitably be less urgently dealt with than someone who is due in court for a full hearing the following day. There is, however, a difference between a busy solicitor and someone who appears not to care about your case at all.

What You Should Expect From Your Solicitor

A solicitor should respond to your requests, keep you updated about the progress of your case, and should reply to your phone calls and letters. A solicitor should also give you accurate and up-to-date information about your case, and not subject you to unreasonable delays.

Complaints

When you first instructed the firm to deal with your case, you should have been sent details of the ‘complaints procedure’ within the client care letter. In the first instance, it is appropriate to lodge your concerns with the firm. This may be with the solicitor who is acting in your case, or it may be a more senior member of the firm such as a partner or supervisor.

If you don’t know the details of the complaints procedure, contact the firm to ask them who you should approach with your concerns. If this does not solve the problem, or you receive no response to your complaint, it’s time to go to the Legal Ombudsman. The number to call for the Helpline is 0300 555 0333.

Sacking Your Solicitor

It is also possible to sack your solicitor and to find someone else. You should simply communicate with your solicitor’s firm and tell them you no longer wish to act for them anymore. Alternatively, if you have found another lawyer, they may get you to sign an authority that shows that you consent to your old lawyer releasing your case papers to your new solicitor.

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[Add a Comment]
Les - Your Question:
My solicitor has come in board but seens I nstructin him about my daughter being abused in care she only 3 he wont answer my calls put my order in to court for her return I have evidance of this wht can I do going out my mind with worry

Our Response:
As specified in the article, when you first instructed the firm to deal with your case, you should have been sent details of the ‘complaints procedure’ within the client care letter. In the first instance, it is appropriate to lodge your concerns with the firm. This may be with the solicitor who is acting in your case, or it may be a more senior member of the firm such as a partner or supervisor. If you don’t know the details of the complaints procedure, contact the firm to ask them who you should approach with your concerns.
SeparatedDads - 3-Jan-17 @ 12:04 PM
My solicitor has come in board but seens i nstructin him about my daughter being abused in care she only 3 he wont answer my calls put my order in to court for her return I have evidance of this wht can I do going out my mind with worry
Les - 2-Jan-17 @ 2:10 PM
Me- Your Question:
Hi Solicitor took on my case, but since sending the papers off iv not heard from them and don't remember who or what company they were. Please how can I find them it was about an injury I hadPleaseHelp

Our Response:
I'm sure they will be back in touch, as these sort of firms usually are hot on the heels of any potential business. There are hundreds of injury claim solicitors from around the country, making it impossible to help you find them. If they called you, look back through your phone when you think it was and try and find a number. Look for any correspondence you may have kept. Other than that, you may just have to wait and see if they contact you again.
SeparatedDads - 25-Oct-16 @ 10:09 AM
Hi Solicitor took on my case, but since sending the papers off iv not heard from them and don't remember who or what company they were. Please how can i find them it was about an injury i had Please Help
Me - 24-Oct-16 @ 1:41 AM
I had a duty solicitor whenfirst interviewed by the police on a quite serious case. I then dropped the duty solicitorin favour of a new solicitor recommended to me.however aftersaying he was happy to take on my case I now cannot get hold of him and he does not return my calls or emails and has expressed reluctance to attend my second police interview in three days time. He has effectively left me without legal representation .If he fails to represent me am I entitled to use a new duty solicitor having dropped the first one?
mac - 20-Oct-16 @ 2:37 PM
Just discovered a solicitor representing me has broken the law by secretly withdrawing my counterclaim; tamperedwith my doc evidence via suppression/disposal and altered my statement of defence and witness statement on oath to give the misleading impression that I have admitted to the various fraudulent allegations when in fact my legal opponents, aided and abetted by my current solicitor, are hiding thematerial facts, particularly they are suing me with "unclean hands" and they are the one's indebted to me not the other way round, having misappropriated over £70K from funds that I remitted for the renovation of my property, among other things..Grateful to know whether to drop him before reporting him to the legal authoritiesor should I retain him until such time the authorites investigate my complaint etc.Many thanks.
Feli - 22-Jun-16 @ 1:46 PM
Ronni - Your Question:
I am helping my friend who lives abroad to get his house back.The house has been rented out for 23 years to someone on housing benefits. It appears she has become a protected tenant and refuses to move out.The solicitor acting on our behalf has been negligent on several occasions in preparing documents for court and despite his apologies and promises to put things right he continues to be inconsistent and unreliable.Can I dismiss him and find a more competent solicitor before the court case in September.

Our Response:
As specified in the article, it is also possible to sack the solicitor and to find someone else. However, your friend may wish to complain through the company's in-house complaints procedure first.
SeparatedDads - 20-Jun-16 @ 12:01 PM
I am helping my friend who lives abroad to get his house back. The house has been rented out for 23 years to someone on housing benefits. It appears she has become a protected tenant and refuses to move out. The solicitor acting on our behalf has been negligent on several occasions in preparing documents for court and despite his apologies and promises to put things right he continues to be inconsistent and unreliable. Can I dismiss him and find a more competent solicitor before the court case in September.
Ronni - 19-Jun-16 @ 2:14 PM
Chappers - Your Question:
On trying to remortgage my leasehold flat it has come to light that there was an error when registering the lease at the Land Registry two years ago when I purchased the flat.I need to discuss this with the solicitor I used for the purchase but he has has ignored my emails and phone calls. As he's not currently engaged by me can I force him to respond in any way and to fix the error without cost to me, or do I need to employ somebody else and pay them to put things right?

Our Response:
The solicitor who dealt with the conveyancing on your property is definitely the person you will need to speak to. As specified in the article, as solicitors tend to prioritise their work, a client whose case is currently ongoing and who does not have a ‘deadline’ as such, will inevitably be less urgently dealt with than someone with a deadline. However, this does not mean you should be ignored. I would send a letter or email stating that if he continues to ignore you, you will have to file a complaint. I'm sure this will have the desired effect, if not then you will need to find out the complaints procedure and take this approach. If the error is the conveyancing solicitor's, then you should not have to pay.
SeparatedDads - 22-Apr-16 @ 10:20 AM
On trying to remortgage my leasehold flat it has come to light that there was an error when registering the lease at the Land Registry two years ago when I purchased the flat. I need to discuss this with the solicitor I used for the purchase but he has has ignored my emails and phone calls.As he's not currently engaged by me can I force him to respond in any way and to fix the error without cost to me, or do I need to employ somebody else and pay them to put things right?
Chappers - 21-Apr-16 @ 10:33 AM
Sammy - Your Question:
My brothers girlfriend ha left my brother and their baby, her mom is a legal secretary, a solicitor has emailed my brother from the same company accusing him of domestic violence and saying they will be coming to collect the baby on a specific date, the police said that she is not to return to our address and the baby is staying at my brothers adress. Can a solicitor email? Do you think this is real or could it be fake?

Our Response:
I suggest you take this up directly with the solicitor who emailed in order to to verify whether the email is legitimate or not.
SeparatedDads - 17-Feb-16 @ 2:20 PM
My brothers girlfriend ha left my brother and their baby, her mom is a legal secretary, a solicitor has emailed my brother from the same company accusing him of domestic violence and saying they will be coming to collect the baby on a specific date, the police said that she is not to return to our address and the baby is staying at my brothers adress. Can a solicitor email? Do you think this is real or could it be fake?
Sammy - 16-Feb-16 @ 10:27 PM
sunny20 - Your Question:
A friend of mine is about to go through divorce from his wife who is a lesbian. They have two young children and he is suffering very badly mentally which is why I am asking this on his behalf.He has found a solicitor who is sympathetic to his situation but she is changing practices soon. Will she be able to take my friend's case with her when she leaves or should he find an alternative solicitor now, instead.Many thanks

Our Response:
I'm afraid he would have to ask the solicitor directly what his best options are regarding this. Much depends on where she is moving to, and whether she is allowed to bring clients etc. Without knowing the circumstances surrounding her job, it makes it difficult for us to answer.
SeparatedDads - 10-Feb-16 @ 2:08 PM
A friend of mine is about to go through divorce from his wife who is a lesbian. They have two young children and he is suffering very badly mentally which is why I am asking this on his behalf. He has found a solicitor who is sympathetic to his situation but she is changing practicessoon. Will she be able to take my friend's case with her when she leaves or should he find an alternative solicitor now, instead. Many thanks
sunny20 - 10-Feb-16 @ 9:44 AM
Have tried severaltimes with differentsolicitors to get help preventing forced adoption of our daughter after change of circumstances sinceorder was made several months ago.They all make excuses like haven't the time couldn't do you justice etc and tell us to go back to the solicitor we sacked what is wrong with these people?What can we do we have been fobbed of all over and the local authority have lied exaggerated been totally mistaken and yet they are getting away with it at the expense of all our families futures especially our little girl.
Vic - 26-Jan-16 @ 11:14 AM
Joeboe66 - Your Question:
Please can you help, my dad died in March 2014, the will still has not been read and, it has been impossible to get hold of the Solicitor who is dealing with this. What can we do

Our Response:
You need to make a complaint asap. The solicitor's office in question will have a complaints department.
SeparatedDads - 18-Dec-15 @ 11:46 AM
Please can you help, my dad died in March 2014, the will still has not been read and, it has been impossible to get hold of the Solicitor who is dealing with this. What can we do
Joeboe66 - 17-Dec-15 @ 4:49 PM
Doz - Your Question:
Please help my son went temp to his grandmas while I went to rehab by order of the courts he was 5 I got told there was no criteria in Blackpool to fight for him in rehab I got a solicitor as in the process they ended up getting guardian ships I got a solicitor who said they had done a classic but things are progressing I was booked in for a hair test and have rang my solicitor on two occasions as she not send the forms or book mediation or anything now she's not got back to me help please I just need some contact and for my solicitor to do her job

Our Response:
As specified in the article, a solicitor should respond to your requests, keep you updated about the progress of your case, and should reply to your phone calls and letters. A solicitor should also give you accurate and up-to-date information about your case, and not subject you to unreasonable delays.When you first instructed the firm to deal with your case, you should have been sent details of the ‘complaints procedure’ within the client care letter. In the first instance, it is appropriate to lodge your concerns with the firm. This may be with the solicitor who is acting in your case, or it may be a more senior member of the firm such as a partner or supervisor. It may be wise speaking to a superior in the firm, if your own solicitor is taking an unreasonably long time to get back to you. If this matter is resolved, it is worth keeping a diary of all the contact emails and dates of phone calls that have not been replied to, just in case this happens again.
SeparatedDads - 1-Oct-15 @ 10:16 AM
Please help my son went temp to his grandmas while I went to rehab by order of the courts he was 5 I got told there was no criteria in Blackpool to fight for him in rehab I got a solicitor as in the process they ended up getting guardian ships I got a solicitor who said they had done a classic but things are progressing I was booked in for a hair test and have rang my solicitor on two occasions as she not send the forms or book mediation or anything now she's not got back to me help please I just need some contact and for my solicitor to do her job
Doz - 30-Sep-15 @ 7:35 AM
@Medical damage - two years is a long time not to be getting a response, as specified in the article; while a client whose case is currently ongoing and who does not have a ‘deadline’ as such, will inevitably be less urgently dealt with than someone who is due in court for a full hearing the following day. There is, however, a difference between a busy solicitor and someone who appears not to care about your case at all. A solicitor should respond to your requests, keep you updated about the progress of your case, and should reply to your phone calls and letters. A solicitor should also give you accurate and up-to-date information about your case, and not subject you to unreasonable delays. In the first instance, you should make a formal complaint to either your solicitor and if you don't get a response within a specified time, then take it to a more senior member of the firm such as a partner or supervisor. However, if you do not feel comfortable or have any trust left in your current solicitor,as stated it is also possible to sack them and to find someone else. You may want to have a ring around, or ask for some personal recommendations from people you know. Then, you should simply communicate with your solicitor’s firm and tell them you no longer wish to be represented by them anymore. Alternatively, if you have found another lawyer, they may get you to sign an authority that shows that you consent to your old lawyer releasing your case papers to your new solicitor. Sometimes it may feel like; 'better the devil you know', but it might be that if you find someone new, it will be like a breath of fresh air when you get the response and service that you deserve.
SeparatedDads - 28-Apr-15 @ 10:12 AM
Im a victuim of medical damage & neglect ive been with my solicitorfor 2 years &with repeative calls&voice mail messages left i dont get a response no progress made on my case ive gathered all of medical records for my solicitor of which was asked to do ive gone had all tests &treatment of which was asked of & 3 different medical opinions too which was/is time consuming as NHS app is far apart...i have a deadline for this july to put the court papers in & ive left a number of messages on the phone with info on updates on medical reports i still dont get a response the reception said that my solicitor is in court or with a client or on holiday tells me to leave a voice mail message & nothing ....im running out of time& desperate .. Thank you
Medical damage - 24-Apr-15 @ 11:29 PM
@Dougie - if you feel you have been treated unfairly, you can complain to Cafcass via the link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 13-Feb-15 @ 2:27 PM
Hi I applied for access to see my children over two years ago, and was bombarded with a heap of malicious allegations by the mother thatwhere very severe, naturally you would expect most of these allegations to be reported to the local authorities but since there where all lies of course they were not. Cafcass was asked to do a fact finding and clearly took the mothers side and advised the judge that i only have indirect contact with my children, some of the findings in there report where such as i'm known to social services so, i contacted social services and they didn't even know i existed. I have been referred to take domestic violence intervention program ( DVIP) which is pretty much saying i admit to the allegations that i didn't commit or i never see my kids. Cafcass report was based on hearsay and that's how they decided my fate. Any helpful advice?
Dougie - 12-Feb-15 @ 6:47 PM
@breano - do you think they may just be asking for advice for the salon used to get verification of how much you paid, in order to further your claim.
Edie - 19-Jan-15 @ 2:06 PM
I had a accident nearly 2yrs ago im results lost most of my hair . found these solicitors on line an few months ago started getting impatient. They stopped answering emails and phone calls. When I did manage to speak they made me feel that I was be interrogated and very insensitive towards my case. I done everything they ask me to like attend medicals, gather witness statemens , photographic evidence and a company that admitted liability. I also put a claim for loss of earnings and recovery of money spent to repair the hair. This total was 2400 without any sum added for the emotional scarring I received.My solicitor sent me a first offer for less than this. I was modified! When I rang them to refuse the offer he said that there not hairdresser so couldn't really value the damage. And only now after provided payslips and receipt for appointment they now ask me to provide details of the salon I used. Do anyone else think this is normal behaviour and I'm being treated fairly.
breano - 17-Jan-15 @ 8:42 AM
@Chaz - I think I'd change my solicitor! Especially if you are paying good money.
JillB - 27-Nov-14 @ 3:03 PM
I'm paying for a solicitor and she is always out of the office, or on another line, then doesn't get back to me, and when she does, she talks down to me like I was a second class citizen, any advice?
Chaz - 26-Nov-14 @ 10:18 AM
I have Phoned "Gold Stones" in Swansea 5 or 6 times in the last month, I keep getting told that a solicitor will contact me on my phone. Still no phonecall, My son has been stolen from me and my Fiancee by my parents, It went thru court b4 with different firm and we had the worst support and I even had a solicitor who liked standing up when it was his turn and always commented "I have nothing further to add" there are Human Rights issues with what we been through, we felt like we were being treated as Guilty b4 we were proven to b innocent. Can I legaly force a law firm to stop ignoring me?
Cecil - 23-Aug-12 @ 12:39 PM
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