I have a personal injury claim being handled by solicitors but I think they have made a mess of it and can’t cope with it. Can I move my case to new solicitors?

A solicitor who is appointed by a client to handle a matter on their behalf must always act in their interest and act professionally.

Unfortunately it has become a sad fact that a lot of personal injury are not selected on their skill, expertise and reputation but just by paying a fee (these referral fees are due to be banned in April 2013).

Generally when you appoint a solicitor in this area of law they will act on a conditional fee basis or with the benefit of your legal expense insurance (this insurance is often an add-on when taking out vehicle insurance). In any event they will have what is known as a retainer which is a contract between you and them for payment of their fees.

Generally you can end their retainer but this may leave you liable to pay their fees so you should initially try to resolve your differences with them. Solicitors must have complaints procedures in place so ask for it and see if your complaint can restore your trust. If however you have lost all trust and confidence in them you can seek a transfer of your case to new solicitors.

All that needs to happen is that your new solicitors will get you to sign a form of authority which will allow the former solicitors to release your file to your new lawyers. Your new firm will give solicitors undertaking to preserve their lien as to costs. This term just means that they will promise to make sure the old firm’s costs are protected and will be dealt with and paid upon conclusion of the case. This avoids you having to pay their costs to move the file.
The paper file will then be transferred across and from then on the new solicitors will be “acting” for you. Very often this allows a fresh pair of eyes to view the file and make rapid and sensible progress whereas before the matter may have been blocked.

In conclusion, try to resolve your differences but if you sincerely believe that you have lost confidence in your lawyers seek to move your file to a hand-picked firm. Make sure the new firm are creditable as you do not want to leap from the frying pan into the fire.