1 reviews (1/5) and information for DMH Stallard LLP, Griffin House, 135 High Street, Crawley

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Griffin House, 135 High Street, Crawley, Sussex, RH10 1DQ

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1.0 stars average for DMH Stallard LLP from 1 reviews

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DMH Stallard LLP

General Legal advice

1 stars

16/11/15 - Reviewed by Martin Fowler

Early in 2013, I instructed Simon Elcock of DMH Stallard LLP (“DMH”) to act for me in a certain matter. In August 2013, I asked him to issue proceedings: this was some three weeks before the last date, as calculated by Simon Elcock, upon which proceedings could be issued (“the limitation date”).

Two days before that limitation date, I received an e-mail that had ostensibly been sent by Simon Elcock some five days earlier. In that e-mail, Simon Elcock said that he was no longer prepared to act for me in the matter, although he had never previously indicated that he would not be prepared to pursue the matter to a conclusion. The reasons that Simon Elcock gave for his decision appeared to me to be spurious, not least because they would have been just as relevant at the outset, yet he had never previously mentioned them.

In the subsequent exchange of e-mails, Simon Elcock failed to address the fundamental questions, and in November 2013, the matter was raised as a complaint. That complaint was dealt with by Rhod James, the Head of Risk and Compliance at DMH.

Rhod James said that he would need the best part of a month to look into the matter, but even then he needed a reminder before he produced his substantive response. That substantive response maintained that Simon Elcock had done nothing wrong. It included assertions that appeared irrelevant; assertions that appeared incorrect; assertions that appeared incomplete; at least one assertion that appeared unrealistic; and one assertion that appeared to be a logical impossibility. Furthermore, it signally failed to address the fundamental questions. When asked to justify his assertions, and to address the fundamental questions, Rhod James flatly refused to do so. He also refused to disclose any further information – and he had disclosed little enough to date – insisting that the complaint could only be progressed through the Legal Ombudsman.

The intermediation of the Legal Ombudsman proved to be less than helpful, serving only to protract matters. The Legal Ombudsman’s assessor decided that DMH had provided poor service, and made a recommendation that DMH should pay me a certain sum. At the same time, DMH put forward its own offer of settlement, at a higher figure, via the Legal Ombudsman. However, the offer put forward by DMH required me to accept its offer as settlement of all & any rights of action that I might have had against DMH, and Rhod James’s refusal to provide information meant that I could not properly assess what, if any, such rights I might have had. As soon as I queried the terms of the DMH offer, both offers were immediately withdrawn without notice, and the matter proceeded to a ‘Final Decision’ by one of the Legal Ombudsmen. Regrettably, that ‘Final Decision’ was factually inaccurate, and was rejected for that reason. However, the involvement of the Legal Ombudsman had taken up a good part of 2014.

When the involvement of the Legal Ombudsman had been concluded, I reverted to Rhod James with a view to agreeing an amicable settlement. He refused to disclose any further information, but he did offer a modest settlement that he knew could not be assessed properly, because he had refused to provide the information that would be necessary to assess it.

Early in 2015, I indicated that it was my intention to issue proceedings against DMH for negligence. Rhod James refused to comply with any part of the pre-action protocol for professional negligence cases. In the summer of 2015, I issued proceedings against DMH for negligence, seeking a refund of all fees paid. Although in the ‘Acknowledgement of Service’ DMH indicated that it intended to defend the claim, a few days later it settled the claim in full before the matter came before the Court, and without filing a defence. However, the approach adopted by Rhod James meant that it had taken nearly two years, and a lot of work, to secure that refund. As DMH had refused throughout to provide a full explanation of why it had acted as it did, it may not be that unreasonable to speculate that DMH paid several thousand pounds to settle my claim so that it could avoid having to explain its conduct.

After DMH had settled my claim in full, I updated the Legal Ombudsman and drew the facts to the attention of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The latter did not consider that the actions of DMH – including the lack of candour that attended the matter throughout, and the refusal to comply with the pre-action protocol – were, of themselves, sufficiently serious to justify its attention.

It is worth noting that some three months before this review was posted, I notified both Simon Elcock and Rhod James by e-mail of my intention to post this review, setting out the factual matters detailed above. That e-mail was also copied to Tim Aspinall, the Managing Partner at DMH. I invited the recipients to draw my attention to any errors, but they did not respond to that invitation.

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