I have been absent for the past few weeks for no other reason that I have been struggling to get my shit together in order to be able to write. I read an article about dispensing with the idea that you will have the time to sit and write for any period when you have children, and that you just need to write in the inbetween. So here I am in the inbetween. This morning you find me inbetween the Walking of the Hound and the Hoarding of the Food. By the time I finish writing this I will probably be inbetween the Duvet and the Pillow.
Solicitors or rather, attorneys, are in the news again this week. Turns out that President Fart’s lawyer did not pay over an enormous wadge of cash to the other side without his client’s instructions to do so. What an huge surprise that was. It has made me think once again about the rules by which solicitors are (quite rightly) governed, those in other professions who are not, and those to whom it would probably not make a difference either way.
For the past four months I have been attempting to buy a new car. I contracted to purchase a new car in January to be delivered at the end of March. I agreed a price, I signed a contract and paid a deposit. My first red flag should have been having to ask for a copy of the order form a fortnight after they had taken the deposit because it had not been sent to me. Red flag number two was that the order form was dated the day that it was sent to me and not the date that the order was placed and the colour (very important) was wrong. Red flag number three, hearing absolutely nothing at all between receipt of this form in January until I chased at the end of March to ask where the car was, that being when it was meant to arrive. The email response I got at the end of March was a red flag to a bull.
Apparently the dealer had some good news. After speaking to Head Office they could confirm that my car was going to be built in a fortnight. It should be ready for the end of April or early May. I was unsure as to why this was good news in that it was being built two weeks after it was meant to have been delivered. Some email to-ing and fro-ing went on, but essentially the position was that I could either like it or lump it and my distinct impression was that they didn’t really care which.
A fortnight later I received another email. In summary; the car should be with the dealer within a few days, it needed to be registered before the end of April or the price might go up, and could I send the money over? I asked for information such as the date the car was expected to be with the dealer, why the price would increase when I had contracted to buy a product at a price, and the requirement for me to send the money now when they did not have possession of the car and I had not seen it. I did not consider any of these requests unreasonable, but that is not how they seemed to have been received. I said to Man of the House that I expected that if a man had been having the same conversation they would have thought of him as a firm but fair negotiator. As a woman, I expect that they just thought of me as a bitch.
So bearing the above and my own profession in mind, I wonder if I may put a hypothetical conversation to you. For the avoidance of doubt, I would never treat or ever speak to anyone, not even the world’s most ghastly person (if a solicitor refers to someone as ghastly or beastly, they are really very horrible indeed) like this.
Imagine I am acting for you on your property purchase of Buckingham Palace, upon which you instructed me in January, with all parties aiming for completion by the end of March. This timescale fits with you getting started on the double-glazing over the Summer so it is all done and dusted ready for the Autumn. This also suits Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as she has a couple of family weddings coming up and she wants to be settled in her new abode before it all kicks off in May. After hearing nothing from me since January, this conversation is taking place at the end of March.
Me: Good news, I think with a bit of luck and a following wind I might be able to complete in a fortnight. Can you send over the money ready for completion? It’s probably peanuts to you so you don’t mind do you?
You: Completion was to be for the end of this month. You haven’t been in touch since contracts were wrong in January when I asked to see a copy of the contract, parts of which were incorrect.
Me: [hands over ears]: Lah-di-dah…… so could you send the money anyway on the off-chance I’ll do it? And can you send me my costs as well because it’s really important for me that I get my bill in for the end of this month even if I haven’t completed. And by the way, if you don’t send the money before the end of this month the purchase price and my fees are likely to go up.
I was opining as to how the conversations would go for solicitors in other areas:
Client: Wasn’t there a deadline for submitting that to the Court?
Solicitor: Deadline, schmedline. I’ll work to my own timetable, thank you.
Client: (4am). I really need you here to advise me.
Solicitor: I’ll see you at 9am and not before. Sweet dreams.
Client: Is my Will ready to sign?
Solicitor: It’ll be ready when I’m ready to draft it. If you die, you die.
If any of these were true I am sure that the SRA would be on it faster than me on a box of unattended After Eights. And there are bad solicitors as in any other profession, otherwise the SRA would have had no need to strike off a solicitor who head-butted the other side (both litigants in person for the purposes of that matter) or investigate a firm where one solicitor sent what the judge investigating referred to as “breathtakingly rude correspondence” which included a letter saying “You will get nothing then. Goodbye.” . Of course some people do act out of character (the barrister acting for the solicitor struck off for administering a Glasgow kiss said that the stress of the case caused his client to behave in such a manner). But it strikes me that rather like my Flybe debacle last year (see Fly Maybe blog) some people either just don’t get it, or worse still they get it and just don’t care.
So what do I do? Headbutting would seem to be rather over the top. I was going to write to their CEO and explain so they can try and put it right for the next customer, but that could cause someone to directly lose their job, or at least have a very unpleasant meeting with management; I don’t want to do that to anyone, particularly when the failings seem to be both systemic and endemic. And why should I care about their business when to all intents and purposes they do not care about mine? When I mentioned where I was getting a car from to a neighbour this morning, entirely unprompted, they guffawed loudly and voiced an entirely uncomplimentary opinion. A complete stranger asked me in the showroom if I thought they were any good and when I said not she said that she had found it to be so awful that she was never going there ever again. Perhaps I don’t need to do anything. I think I’ll just never go back.