All family lawyers tarnished with the same brush in The Legal Ombudsmen’s Report on Divorce Costs; The Price of Separation!

According to the Legal Ombudsman, some solicitors are failing to advise clients who are getting divorced to settle their courtroom battles before costs rise out of control because of the "emotional rawness" of those involved.

The Legal Ombudsman’s report claims that nearly a fifth (18%) of the 7,500 complaints resolved last year involved divorce or family law-related cases, making it the most complained about area of law in England and Wales.

The report goes on to provide an example of one case, in which a woman's legal costs exceeded the original estimated expenditure by £40,000 because the firm "had neither sought to challenge [her] approach nor inform her of the mounting costs". In another, an unemployed mother was unknowingly charged £4,000 for photocopying. When she asked her lawyers to halt proceedings, they allegedly continued regardless, and presented her with a £15,000 bill.

The report also says "One of the reasons why costs can spiral out of control lies in the emotional rawness of many of those going through divorce proceedings ... It is common for [people] to rely heavily on the one individual who is both an expert in how to negotiate the process and who is seen to be on their side: their lawyer.” These headline cases have been featured heavily in TV and media coverage today but is it really fair to tarnish all family lawyers with the same brush?

Here at Pinder Reaux, we were both shocked and saddened by the generalisations against family practitioners that has been taken by the report and further highlighted by the press. Whilst we do not seek to criticise the work of fellow lawyers, it would be true to say that many new clients contact us as a result of poor service that they have received from their previous solicitors as a result of un-expectant charges added to their bills and in situations where, often, costs have escalated with no clear strategy in place for the case. This lack of strategy and transparency has ultimately led to their case losing momentum resulting in an undesirable outcome.

However the report fails to take into consideration that for many divorcing clients, they do not have a friend or relative to discuss their issues, or they choose not to divulge their marital problems to others in fear of unfair judgment. In such instances, the lawyer often assumes this role. The report also fails to take into account the undecided family client who cannot decide how or what to do and provides updating instructions throughout the lifetime of his/her matrimonial matter, which through no fault of the lawyer, results in revised and uplifted quotes being given.

Whilst the findings of the report have undoubtedly cast somewhat of a dim shadow on family law this morning, here at Pinder Reaux, this report has no bearing on the excellent service that has and will continue to be provided to our clients.

Our specialist family team of lawyers provide clear and accurate quotes from the outset of matrimonial matters and where possible, these quotes are for fixed fee amounts. Our clients receive regular itemised bills which have been raised in accordance with our quoted fees, which eliminates any unexpected bills landing on our clients’ doormats. Of course, from time to time revised fee estimates will be required (e.g., due to a change in instructions) and where this is applicable, we provide timely revised quotes well in advance of any intended change . We appreciate that for most clients divorce is an extremely upsetting process. Many clients come to us angry and upset at their spouse's behaviour and seek to punish their spouse through the courts. However, Court proceedings are not always the best option in every matter and this is where a careful selection of your representative is crucial. Understanding your case, understanding what your end goal is and then formulating a strategy to achieve that goal is what marks Pinder Reaux, a law firm that is simply a cut above. To achieve the end goal that is desired, with a legal team that has your back covered, some would argue is priceless.

Despite the press coverage today, we understand the emotive content because we see it every day in the number of clients that come to us from other firms. It is true that their complaints to centre on the financial cost involved: but it is not just because of the amount of legal fees that they have expunged on the case. The real despair is the lack of control, lack of direction of their case. We are certainly not cheap at Pinder Reaux, but you will always be one step ahead. Planning, formulating a strategy and implementation is key.Whatever your experience of family lawyers has been recently or historically, it doesn’t have to continue. Take responsibility for your future happiness and take control of your finances and if the decision to divorce has been made, contact us at Pinder Reaux and we will make sure your position is safe-guarded now and in the future and that you receive the service you deserve by straight talking lawyers.

Rupinder Bains

Managing Director

Pinder Reaux & Associates