No-Win, No-Fee Agreements
My original claim was against an insurance company that ruined my home and made me homeless. I instructed a firm under a ‘no-win no-fee’ agreement that quit 7 weeks later and five months before trial. I go on to get judgment in my favour but the Judge says I am not to receive a penny – I am then pursued to homelessness and bankruptcy by the very firms who were instructed to act in my best interests. (The first firm having now failed at first instance and on appeal.)
Summary – Salient points about my case
- My original claim was against an insurance company that ruined my home and made me homeless. I instructed a firm under a ‘no-win no-fee’ agreement that quit 7 weeks later and five months before trial. I go on to get judgment in my favour but the Judge says I am not to receive a penny – I am then pursued to homelessness and bankruptcy by the very firms who were instructed to act in my best interests. (The first firm having now failed at first instance and on appeal.)
- As for the second firm, the Court of Appeal has found that a solicitor can cease acting if the client complains about the service they receive.
- My solicitors did not even have to abide by their own complaints protocol [in direct breach of the Solicitors Code of Conduct].
- There is clear evidence of a perversion of the course of justice by the solicitor which the courts will not even touch.
- A policeman has confirmed a perversion of the course of justice by a member of the judiciary which, so far, the authorities appear to have swept under the carpet.
- The solicitor can charge whatever they like and the court rubber stamps it. [As for success fees, think of a number and double it!]
- The High Court and the Courts of Appeal ignore irrefutable evidence.
- The Solicitors Regulation Authority takes no action on complaints. – The Office for Judicial Complaints takes no action on complaints.
- The Court Service ignores correspondence and either refuses or fails to deal with applications and evidence in a timely manner, or at all.
- The Ministry of Justice takes no action on complaints about the Court Service.
- When I have appeared as a litigant-in-person, I have on occasions been verbally abused, and the evidence I have presented has been ignored such that costs have not followed the event and the decisions made do not reflect the true facts.
The original claim was against French insurance company (Groupama) for failing to reinstate my property following subsidence damage. It was a straightforward breach of contract involving a modest 2br maisonette in south-east London. They had left me homeless for the best part of a decade. I instructed two firms of solicitors – both let me down. In October 2010, a third firm represented me just before the trial.
Although judgment was made in my favour, I was not awarded my damages. These instead were to be assigned to pay in part Groupama’s solicitor’s fees. In October 2011, the Court of Appeal overturned that Order so that I got my damages. However, I was still not awarded my own costs from March 2007 to post-trial. A reasonable person might assume that because the first two firms were instructed under a ‘no-win no-fee’ agreement, but had acted negligently, that I would have any liability toward them. No so. Instead, the courts have permitted the first two firms to pursue me to bankruptcy.
The first firm, Lorrells, has failed in this and two courts have found that Lorrells quit the contract and are indebted to me for costs. However, the senior partner of the second firm, Carter Lemon Camerons LLP, is doing everything he possibly can to ruin me – with the robust support of the courts.
What happened with the 2nd firm?
On 13 May 2010, I sent an email expressing concerns about the fee earner’s conduct. Within hours, the senior partner had told me more than 25 times that they could not and would not act for me anymore and if I wanted my files (what was left of them) I would have to pay their bill. They made a 7-page attendance note documenting this. I did not know how much their bill was because they never actually informed me about the costs they were incurring. They said they would attend the court hearing the following day to say they had been “professionally embarrassed” and were coming off the record. They did attend but did not tell the court this. The court denied all knowledge of the matter.
The Law Society said it couldn’t help. On 24 May 2010, I sent a formal complaint to the firm. On 27 May 2010, the senior partner wrote me a letter, accusing me of having disinstructed them on 24 May 2010 and that I was in breach of contract (but he was not going to tell me how), and enclosed a bill for more than £200,000, for which they wanted a 100% success fee on top! This, I repeat, after they had stated on 13 May 2010 that they would no longer represent me.
I tried to get my files so I could continue on with my case. The court dismissed my application and ordered I pay the firm £8,000. I then took the application to the Queen’s Bench Appeals Court where I was ordered to pay another £10,000, and then to the Court of Appeal which dismissed my application and I was ordered to pay alot more (costs not yet assessed). Just before Christmas, the Supreme Court has refused an application for permission to appeal on the basis that:- “… the application does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance bearing in mind that the case has already been the subject of judicial decision and reviewed on appeal”.
Lords Mance, Clarke & Sumption [Viewers might recognise the name “Sumption” as (one of) the highest paid barrister(s) in the land.] I find this astounding, not least because no-win no-fee agreements (CFAs) were designed to replace Legal Aid, and I was being deprived of the basic right to express my concerns about the service I was receiving.
I also find the second part of the sentence disingenuous, since we had presented to the Supreme Court the further evidence that was not before the Court of Appeal, which confirmed that the firm had already treated the retainer as terminated on 17 May 2010, and requested its inclusion. (So that, in layman’s terms indicates the perpetration a fraud by the solicitor – pecuniary advantage by deception.)
Also, the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority and the Ombudsman encourage clients to complain about their solicitors. Then you are left without your files, without a solicitor, and with a huge bill. A respected journalist confirmed that there is a transference of wealth which is going on all over the country where people sign up to ‘no-win no-fee’ agreements and the next thing they know, they are in debt up to their eyeballs and face losing their home.
There is a bankruptcy hearing on 26 February.