I had written to the Financial Ombudsman because I had, under the terms of my house
insurance, a legal expenses cover for the services of a solicitor.
As will be seen under the Link solicitors, I had been advised by the Law Society that there were
grounds for negligence by a solicitor who represented me at an employment tribunal, so I used
the legal cover I had on my house insurance to try to seek redress.
I had sent documents supporting my case to the insurance company, and they in turn allocated
me a solicitor to handle my case.
At the first of only two meetings I had with him, he openly admitted that he had no experience
whatsoever in the subject matter of my problem, which was employment law, but there were
solicitors in his firm who did have experience, and they would be utilised.
Eventually I had realized that this lack of knowledge and experience, coupled to his unwillingness
to ask for help from his colleagues was seriously impacting my case. I had rung and written
to my insurers to ask for advice and help.
Contrary to their pledge to get back to their customers within 2 hours, it had taken 4 months of
persistent phoning and writing to get into communication with them.
They claimed no record of my phone calls, but when presented with a copy of my telephone bill
showing all the calls, they "conditionally" apologized, but by this time it was too late, and the
solicitor had "completed" his findings, and as could be expected, in favour of the solicitor, stating
he had been negligent and incompetent, but it could not be proven this had caused a loss
When trying to get into communication with my insurers, I had eventually followed their complaints
process up to chief executive before finally getting any response, by which time it was too late, and as
the solicitor had deemed only a 50% chance of winning, they would not provide further funding.
I had discovered the manager of the department in question at the insurers was a solicitor, and as the
case was investigating the negligence and possible losses caused by that negligence, I was not
overly surprised at my lack of progress in trying to get a solicitor experienced in the right field.
The Financial Ombudsman was apparently inundated with complaints, and according to television
reports, had at that time, (2003/4), hired a number of assistants to handle the first layer of complaints.
They were paid a bonus for each case they can complete, and according to television reports, there
was a worrying lack of consistency between complaint handlers for similar categories of complaints.
I stress this is what the situation was in 2003/4, it may not be the same at this time, but then
again it mat still be inundated and the work load handled the same way, I have not recently investigated.
In my case, the response from the Ombudsman's office after waiting many months was simply amazing,
and showed a complete lack of understanding as to the circumstances of my case.
There were huge flaws in the logic of the response, which gave the impression it was a generic
pre formatted response.
I wrote back asking for escalation of my complaint, and was responded to by the Manager of the
department. His response totally contradicted points made in the first response, and showed an
equal lack of research into the problem and my complaints, almost as though my documents had not
I was then sent a letter months later saying my complaints would be referred upwards, but due to the
large number of complaints, II could be waiting "a long time".
It should be noted that in any event, the findings of the Ombudsman is not binding, and they may
advise legal action to resolve some issues.
I eventually received a very short reply simply stating that the decision of the two previous reports
were supported. The fact that these two reports differed significantly on key issues, went unnoticed.
So much for the Financial Ombudsman!