Family breakdown is the ‘most complained about area of law’, according to a new report out today. Excessive charges, poor service and customers who unfairly blamed lawyers for the outcome of a case all featured in divorce-related legal complaints according to the Legal Ombudsman (LeO).
- You can read the Ombudsman’s 10 top tips for dealing with divorce lawyers HERE.
Adam Sampson, the Chief Legal Ombudsman, argues that poor service and inaccurate costing were making divorce even more painful for couples going their own separate ways – citing examples of bills that exceeded estimations by more than £30,000 and, in one case, a woman being told to pay £4,000 for photocopying.
The report found:
- Almost one in five (18%) of the 7,500 complaints the LeO last year were about divorce or family cases, making it ‘the most complained about area of law in England and Wales’.
- Around a quarter of divorce complaints relate to poor cost information
- Over one in five (21%) customers said they were NOT given an estimate of fees when they first consulted a lawyer
- The average cost of divorce was £1300.
- Almost one in five (18%) of complaints investigated related to the lawyer failing to provide adequate legal advice
Sampson also warned spouses about running up unnecessary costs by using their lawyer as ‘a support mechanism or taking out their anger on their former partner using the court process’. ‘I think this report challenges lawyers to raise their game and make the divorce process less painful for consumers,’ he said.
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award