The importance of actually meeting your client…
The recent case of Procter v Raleys Solicitors, heard in the Leeds County Court, highlighted the importance of sitting down with your client and actually taking the time to talk to them about their case and particular circumstances.
This perhaps seems obvious, but you may be surprised to learn that, in some firms, it is more and more common to simply send the client a questionnaire to complete, perhaps have a follow up discussion on the telephone, and then proceed to run the case never having actually met the person you are acting for. Of course, if you choose to instruct solicitors elsewhere in the country, perhaps after seeing a slick and expensive tv advert, then you would not have the opportunity of ever sitting down with your solicitor and talking.
In the case of Andrew Procter, he was a 53 years old, suffering from an industrial disease, developed after working 19 years as a miner. His Solicitors, Raleys, secured a settlement for him of just over £11,000.00, which was to compensate him for his injury and the fact that his ability to work in the future was affected. Mr Procter never met his Solicitor and he did not know that he could also claim for other losses eg not being able to undertake diy or repair his car, as it had never been explained to him.
His Honour Judge Gosnell said "The system set up by the defendants involving as it did, the extensive use of questionnaires and standardised letters with very little personal contact with the client, enabled them to deal with a very high number of claims at a limited cost. The disadvantage however of such a system is that it is heavily reliant on the client carefully reading all the correspondence and filling the questionnaires in accurately."
The failure to take the time to speak to the client and understand his loss, meant that he received a lot less than he was properly entitled to.