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: questionsofcash@independent.co.uk

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

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Financial Analyst - Forecasting - Yorkshire

    £300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Financial Analyst, Forecasting, Halifax, Banking,...

    Business Architect - Bristol - £500 per day

    £500 per day: Orgtel: Business Architect - Banking - Bristol - £500 per day A...

    Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

    £200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

    Day In a Page

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup