Solicitors accused of charging hidden fees
Much in the same way that claiming back of unreasonable bank charges has hit the headlines in recent years, the public and businesses are being urged to examine bills from their solicitors to expose undisclosed ‘hidden’ fees.
A new website, www.solicitor.info has been set up to help people make an informed choice when choosing a solicitor, and is at the forefront of the campaign to expose these hidden fees.
David Sprake, a University Lecturer from Ruabon, North Wales, who founded the website in 2008, says, "A Cheltenham law firm has been ordered by the Forensic Investigation Department of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to track down and re-imburse clients from whom it claimed ‘undisclosed charges’ totalling £113,490 over a three year period. This is just one case of many - and the practice is not uncommon."
The hidden fees relate to making an undisclosed profit by charging clients an inflated fee for telegraphic transfer fees, Indemnity Policies, and Fees, rather than listing the true cost of these items as expenses and disbursements on clients’ bills.
David continues, "While the majority of firms are open with their fee structure, others are less transparent. We need solicitors to make it clear to the public and business clients just what they’re paying for".
Already gaining a following from throughout the UK, www.solicitor.info is set to revolutionise the way people choose a lawyer by allowing those who’ve had a good, or a bad, experience to write a review and rank the solicitor they chose to represent them. The site is publishing the SRA’s rulings against solicitors online so that clients can check out a firm’s record.
"Following a bad experience with my chosen solicitor I got to thinking about how people choose a lawyer now that the days of the ‘Family Solicitor’ are long gone and came up with the idea of a website with a star ranking system - similar to hotels, with real feedback from people who’d used the firms. I had the idea of setting up a site that would help people who wanted to go beyond the efficient and professional looking advertisements that many solicitors have in publications such as the Yellow Pages, and find out what the service offered by that solicitor was really like. Everyone knows that the best way to find any type of professional is by word of mouth - and we have simply taken that idea onto the Internet. The times we need to call on the help of a solicitor are stressful enough. We don’t need the added stress of bad service and bad advice." Says David.
www.solicitor.info is for people to rate their experiences to help others make an informed choice when choosing a solicitor. David continues, "There’s no cost involved, it’s free to add a firm, rating and comments, and free to use when you’re looking for a good solicitor with particular expertise. The whole idea is that people don’t get caught out like I did."
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Notes for Editors
Solicitor.info is an independent website with the goal of finding you the best solicitor by collecting and displaying opinions about Solicitors in the UK.
It was founded by David Sprake in 2009. This website was created specifically to help people find a good solicitor in their area. David started this website after a long and frustrating search for a good and reputable solicitor. Without any recommendations to go on he was basically in the dark. He managed to find a good solicitor eventually - after several false starts - but not before he had the idea of setting up a website that would help people who wanted to go beyond the efficient and professional looking advertisements that many solicitors have in publications such as the Yellow Pages, and find out what the service offered by that solicitor was really like.
You can use this website in two ways:
- If you have used a solicitor in the past you can become a member of this site for free and rate your solicitor by filling in a simple form which takes just a couple of minutes. By giving an honest opinion of the service you received, you will be helping other people to decide whether your solicitor is right for them.
- If you are looking for a solicitor then all you need to do is use the search facility to find reviews of solicitors in your area. Find out what they are really likeand make an informed choice, thanks to the help and insight offered by previous clients!
Over 1000 complaints in the United Kingdom are made to the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) about solicitors each month .
Whilst the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) is formally part of the Law Society for England and Wales, it is an independent complaints handling body . The Legal Complaints Service was previously known as the Consumer Complaints Service (CCS) and the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS).
As part of its remit, the Law Society has charged the Legal Complaints Service with the responsibility of acting as an impartial adviser and adjudicator to examine complaints from the general public about its member solicitors. In 2008 the Legal Complaints Service decided not to publish its record of complaints against solicitors  after extensive consultation with place holders. However, Professor Shamit Saggar, Chair of the Board of the Legal Complaints Service, said: "There was tremendous appetite for this proposal from the leading consumer organisations and the Board of the Legal Complaints Service remains committed to the idea of publication in principle" .
Solicitor.info is a free, non profit making collaborative web based project that is intended to create a forum and information resource for the general public to share information and fair opinion about solicitors they have had experience of. People are able to post their views anonymously and anyone can freely access this information. Factually incorrect and/or defamatory information that is posted will, upon request, be removed. The Motto of the project is "You are the Judge" and the project is intended to be in the spirit of the freedom of information act  and the freedom of expression (article 19 human rights.) 
David Sprake, a University lecturer, is a self confessed frustrated member of the public who wanted to find a good solicitor. He has no legal experience or qualifications.
Further information from
www.solicitor.info/press - Interview from Calon FM with David Sprake tells the story of the development of the website as a result of David’s experience. The inteview talks about feedback from solicitors themselves, and how the site works.
Insert your firm name and named contact, with phone number and e-mail address
David Sprake - firstname.lastname@example.org
Victoria Cooke - Hunter Bevan Ltd - 01691 682566 - email@example.com