Questions of Cash: Car accident that put me on a collision course with solicitors


Q. I was a passenger in a car accident two years ago. Spencers solicitors in Chesterfield acted on behalf of the driver, and sent me paperwork to make a claim for compensation. I signed the paperwork and visited a doctor for a claim of about £2,500. Spencers did not receive the first set of papers.

As a result, they said they would take me to court for their costs, which amounted to the same value as the compensation claim. I asked Spencers how I could avoid having my belongings taken away by bailiffs and they told me that I could reinstruct them, avoiding further costs and then obtaining compensation.

I sent the paperwork in again and expected a compensation payment. Instead I have now been sent a letter, again stating that they have not received the signed paperwork. Now Spencers, who were acting on my behalf, are to instruct the court and bailiffs to collect costs of £2,500. When I contacted them in panic, I was told they would not act on my behalf again, but would accept a payment of £498 to put the matter to rest. CT, London.

A. Your version of events is not accepted by Spencers. Given the conflicting interpretations of what happened, we are not in a position to take a view on which party is in the right. With the benefit of hindsight, you should have sent the papers to the solicitors by recorded delivery. We suggested to Spencers that as the problem appeared – from your version of events – to have come about through a loss of mail and a misunderstanding, it would be helpful if the matter could be resolved by the papers being signed again and Spencers pursuing that matter on your behalf. Spencers said it could not act for you having obtained a court judgment against you.

Robert Landman, chief financial officer of Spencers solicitors, says: "Unfortunately, we are limited in the extent to which we can respond in detail due to us being strictly bound by the Solicitors Regulation Authority professional code of conduct, one aspect of which is client confidentiality... As confirmed to you, we were instructed to pursue a claim for compensation on behalf of [the reader].

"We took full instructions, prepared relevant documents, commenced the claim and arranged a medical examination. Spencers spent appropriate time on the claim and incurred relevant expenses. After exhaustive but unsuccessful attempts to obtain [the reader's] ongoing instructions through correspondence and telephone calls over three-and-a-half months, [the reader] was clearly in breach of the terms of her contract by failing to co-operate in the provision or collection of information relevant to the claim. Spencers consequently commenced proceedings to recover its costs and expenses, in full adherence to our terms of business.

"We firmly believe that we have acted professionally throughout this case, as we do for all our clients. In an effort to seek a resolution to this matter, Spencers had already agreed with [the reader] to waive its basic charges and accept payment only for expenses incurred, and she had agreed to this. For this reason, we were surprised when [the reader] decided to make this matter public."

You seem to have three avenues available to you. One is to pay Spencers' reduced charges. The alternatives are to seek further independent advice, such as that from Citizens Advice, or pursue a complaint through the Legal Ombudsman.

Q. On Good Friday, I tried to withdraw cash from an HBOS cashpoint in Marchmont, Edinburgh . The ATM accepted my card, PIN and cash request but then whirred and retained my card without dispensing cash. It displayed a message saying that a system error meant that the ATM was being withdrawn from service.

While standing at the ATM, I phoned HBOS using the number displayed above the machine, and reported the error. The person I spoke to refused to make any note of my call, saying that as I am not an HBOS customer I had to phone my own bank. Within 20 minutes I phoned my bank, Smile, and cancelled my card. Smile assured me there was no reason why my card should have been retained.

My next bank statement showed that three cash withdrawals had been made from another ATM a few yards away from the HBOS ATM immediately after my card had been taken. Smile refunded the loss without question, but if HBOS had immediately investigated my complaint they would have discovered the criminal fraud taking place. DH, West Midlands.

A. A skimming device was fitted to the front of the HBOS ATM, enabling criminals to conduct the fraud. HBOS has listened to the recording of your call: you said the ATM was "broken and there was an error message". Neither you nor HBOS were aware a fraud was taking place. As a result, HBOS says its staff member was correct in not taking any further action beyond advising you to contact your own bank to arrange for your card to be cancelled.

However, it agrees that the staff member should have logged your call, though this would, it seems, not have made any difference. A spokeswoman for HBOS says: "We can confirm the Bank of Scotland Marchmont ATM was recently affected by a skimming device. We sincerely apologise to [the reader] for the poor service he received when he called to report the fault, and can confirm we are investigating the matter."

HBOS became aware of the skimming device only when a customer reported this when the branch reopened after the long weekend. We asked the bank what a person should do when they find a skimming device attached to an ATM. Its suggested action is identical to what you did – except you did not specify that a skimming device was attached. As you were unaware of that, it is difficult to see what else you could have done.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at:

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Life and Style
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

    £50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

    SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

    £450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

    Project Manager - Pensions

    £32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

    £200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone