Can I change my solicitor or lawyer?
Sometimes legal claims do not go smoothly.
Roughly 2 or 3 times a year, I receive a telephone call from an injured person who already has a solicitor acting for them and is considering changing.
Such clients sometimes say the following:
- An unqualified paralegal is running my case
- My solicitor is never available
- The law firm keeps changing the lawyer or solicitor dealing with my claim
- My lawyer is not making much progress with the case
- My solicitor never returns my telephone calls
- I'm not happy with my compensation offer
- The solicitor will not answer calls
- Can I change my solicitor if not satisfied
- I am not happy with my solicitor
- My claim is being allowed to drift
- I do not agree with my medical report
- The medical expert has reported on my injuries superficially
- I suspect that the solicitor is trying to get rid of my case as quickly as possible
- My solicitor has advised me to accept a low settlement offer
- My insurers selected the solicitor, and I had no choice in the matter
- After 2 years, I have been told that I no longer have a case, but I do not understand why not
- Can I change my solicitor or lawyer?
- Will it affect my claim, if I change my lawyer?
- Will it cost me anything to change my solicitor?
If you are in one of the situations described above, then I will be perfectly happy to speak to you on a "no obligations" basis.
Realistically, not all claims can (or should) be transferred
Sometimes the true picture turns out to be one of the following:
- The existing solicitor is doing a perfectly good job, but has simply failed to communicate clearly the steps being taken
- The client is actually the problem, who on further investigation has instructed a succession of different lawyers.
On the other hand, if the solicitor is indeed failing to conduct the case effectively enough, then the request to change solicitors is perfectly reasonable.
In summary, I always have to check everything carefully, before finally agreeing to accept the transfer of your claim.
Steps to transfer your claim
If it is genuinely appropriate to change your solicitor or lawyer, then the following steps are required:
- I will send you an authority to sign, for your file of papers to be transferred
- I then send a letter to the existing solicitors, enclosing the authority and requesting the file
- Before the existing solicitors will transfer the file, I have to give them an undertaking to preserve their costs. This means they will get paid fairly for the work they have done so far
- When the file of papers arrives, I will read everything thoroughly and then report back to you.
Transferred case: Example 1
I previously took over a personal injury claim from a firm of solicitors in Sheffield. The main features of the case were the following:
- The client worked as a saw operator in a stonemason's yard
- His job involved lifting and carrying heavy blocks of stone
- Over the months and years, he started to develop back pain
- He instructed a firm of solicitors in Sheffield. They insisted upon advancing his case as an accident claim
- The difficulty was, he could not prove that an accident had taken place
- The client wanted to advance the claim as a "cumulative injury" claim, but for reasons the client did not understand, this was not done
- The client contacted me and asked if he could change his solicitor
- After a long meeting I agreed to take over his claim
- I then refocused the case, much to the annoyance of the opposing insurance company and their loss adjusters
- I then found a sympathetic spinal surgeon, who prepared a supportive medical report
- I served court proceedings, and settlement was achieved shortly afterwards.
Transferred case: Example 2
I have recently taken over a motorcycle accident claim, on behalf of a client in Hastings. The main features of the case are as follows:
- The client was originally referred by his insurers to a large firm of solicitors located in York
- As a result of his accident, the client suffered serious injuries and was unable to work
- Despite requesting updates regarding his claim, the client complained of problems, saying that his solicitors did not return his telephone calls
- We discussed the situation and I agreed to take over the running of his claim
- The client signed a form of authority to allow the file of papers to be transferred.
I run most of my personal injury claims on a "No Win No Fee" basis, using the Law Society's standard model conditional fee agreement, or CFA.
I look forward to hearing from you, if you wish to change your solicitor or lawyer.