There has been an increase in the number of claims against solicitors going to Court. This would appear to indicate a failure by lawyers to use ADR and mediation to resolve claims at an early stage.
Since October 2015 lawyers have been under a duty to inform clients about a certified ADR provider and whether they will use them, but invariably lawyers are sticking to the letter of the law and not agreeing to mediate with disgruntled clients. Why?
RPC says the number of negligence claims filed in the High Court against solicitors has grown by 33% in 2016, from 98 to 130.
There has also been an increase of 170% in claims against solicitors and barristers since 2012.
RPC says conveyancing claims continue to make up around 50% of cases, but there has been an increase in the numbers of negligence claims involving inheritance and trusts.
Also, there has been an increase in the number of litigants in person who are more likely to go to Court because they are not paying for a lawyer to represent them.
According to RPC ‘Dissatisfied clients are becoming increasingly likely to pursue a negligence claim against their solicitor. Advertising campaigns both by those specialist professional negligence law firms seeking to sue solicitors and organisations promoting access to the complaints system has meant that clients are more aware of how to make a claim than ever before, and therefore are more likely to pursue one if they feel their solicitor or barrister made an error during their case.
‘Whilst this is undoubtedly good news for the consumer, there is still not enough knowledge about how complaints against solicitors should be brought, meaning that unrepresented individuals are pursing claims through the courts and placing significant strain on already severely stretched resources.’
In our view, solicitors should take advantage of the ADR Regulations 2015 to put forward mediation to clients as a way to avoid going to Court.