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**This post was updated in May 2018 **
This is staggering when you think about it – one of the most important decisions someone can make in a claim is being left entirely in the hands of other people.
It happens when claims management companies, insurance companies, trade unions etc, become involved in a claim. They will allocate cases to law firms they use regularly, without any discussion with the client whose claim it is! It means a firm is chosen for the client based on things like caseload capacity and existing business relationships, rather than skill and experience.
So what can you do if you are the client in this situation? Or if your solicitors are not living up to your expectations?
Can you change your solicitors?
You are entitled to switch your solicitors for whatever reason you wish. Common reasons we have encountered include:
- Being unhappy with the service your current personal injury solicitor is providing to you.
- Having your case run by an unqualified paralegal, claims handler, claims executive, litigation executive (or someone with a similar title).
- Losing trust in your legal representative. This can include receiving poor or even advice which could be professionally negligent.
- Poor communication from your legal representative.
If you are sure a change is necessary, it is often better to change your solicitors as early into your case as possible. This allows your claim to progress correctly from the soonest point, and means less work is required to get a mishandled case back on track.
The actual process of transferring a case is easy. Truth Legal specialises in helping clients to move law firms, none of whom have regretted the decision!
However, it is important to remember that just because a solicitor, legal executive or legal adviser doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad at their job.
Also, just because switching your solicitors or legal representative is straightforward does not mean it is something you should do lightly.
There are of course some key issues which you should consider before making such an important decision. In our view, the most important issue is whether you are totally confident that the new solicitor (not a paralegal!) is going to do a better job for you than the old one. To find this out, you should do the following:
- Speak, at length, to the actual person who will be dealing with your case. Are you confident in the abilities of the person you have spoken to? Trust your gut.
- Ask the person (hopefully a solicitor, but do check) about their qualifications
and experience; and ask for examples of similar cases that they have worked on, particularly ones where they have got great results.
- Ask the potential new solicitor or legal executive for a proposed action plan for your case. You really do need to know, and understand, what your new solicitor is proposing to do and why. Is it any better than the plan of your current legal representative?
- Is your potential new solicitor confident that they can obtain interim payments for you? And, if so, how much do they think that they will secure?
- Check the funding arrangements of your potential new solicitor. Do they operate on a ‘No Win No Fee’ basis? Are you going to have to pay any, or more, costs?
Read our blog post if you would like more detail on how to choose the right solicitor for you.
Who will pay my previous law firm’s costs?
We have been asked this question by many of the clients we have helped to move law firms. As we always tell those clients, your file belongs to you, although your solicitor usually has the right to hold on to it until their costs are paid, or an agreement is reached between the two law firms.
However, this will rarely cause a problem. The overwhelming majority of ‘outgoing’ legal representatives will agree to release your file in return for a legal promise (an undertaking) from your new solicitor that they will claim the previous firm’s costs at the conclusion of the case.
Can I switch solicitors if my claim is funded by legal expenses insurance?
If your claim is funded by legal expenses insurance, you will often have a ‘panel’ law firm appointed for you by your legal expenses insurers, as described above. Regardless of what your insurers may tell you, you can change solicitors if you wish. It is easier to do when court proceedings have been issued.
Many clients want to leave the solicitors provided by their legal expenses insurers as they often feel their lawyer has too many cases ongoing, meaning their case does not get enough time spent on it.
Additionally, clients will rarely get to meet their legal expenses-appointed lawyer, as they are usually based far away from them.
How can I switch solicitors to Truth Legal?
If you’re sick of never being able to speak to your paralegal/legal executive/solicitor on the phone, or if you are frustrated by the lack of progress and/or updates about what they are doing on your behalf, contact us for a free consultation (with a solicitor!) about your case.
We pride ourselves on giving honest, ethical advice, so if we believe you would be better off staying with your current legal representatives, we will say so! We are strongly committed to ethics, giving around 1/3 of our time away for free to help people.
If we can help, we will ask you to sign a release form and then we will contact your old solicitors to organise for the papers to be transferred to us securely. It’s unlikely that you will need to speak to your old solicitors again. And they probably won’t want to speak to you either!
Our most satisfied clients and, frankly, some of our most lucrative cases, come from people who change solicitors because their old solicitors haven’t valued the case properly. Here is just one example of our many success stories.
There’s no reason to feel like your case is trapped with a law firm, just because you were allocated to them. Contact us today to see what you can do about it.