How to complain about solicitor fees
Q: I'm about to complete on my house purchase but the legal fees bill from my conveyancing solicitor is much higher than I was originally quoted. How do I complain?
Taking a look at the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) websites, your first step is to make a complaint to your solicitor’s firm. You should be able to find a copy of their complaints procedure on the firm’s website. If not, you should contact them and ask them to provide this for you.
The SRA Code of Conduct, which solicitors must adhere to, contains provisions relating to informing clients about fees – see provision O(1.13) which says:
clients [must] receive the best possible information, both at the time of engagement and when appropriate as their matter progresses, about the likely overall cost of their matter;
See also IB (1.14) which says solicitors must clearly explain their fees and if and when they are likely to change.
The Law Society’s website also says that it is a solicitor’s responsibility to keep you informed of costs and to give you a clear bill which shows the work done and the amount charged.
The Law Society’s website also has information on complaining about solicitor’s fees. If you are not satisfied once you have been through your solicitor’s own complaints procedure, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman.
You may incur further financial penalties if you do not complete on the date agreed, as you are already obliged to under the contract. So it may be that the dispute about the legal fees will continue after the sale has completed.
I think it is probably best to write to the solicitor to say that you are not happy with the fees and could you have a detailed breakdown – as soon as possible – and, if you are not reassured, ask him for a copy of his complaints procedure (if you can’t find it on his website).
For more information on conveyancing solicitor fees see our advice guide.