A lawyer has been fined £5,000 by the Legal Ombudsman for botching a pensioner’s medical negligence case.
Alan Shail, aged 76, was left unable to walk after a failed operation and he instructed Guy Bailey of Reward Litigation Solicitors to pursue a compensation claim.
Mr Shail was told he had a very strong case but complained to the Legal Ombudsman when it became apparent Mr Bailey was holding up proceedings.
The ombudsman said that – in a “rare example” of the organisation needing to take court action – Mr Bailey was found in contempt of court.
He was fined £5,000 plus costs for holding on to important files and failing to update his clients throughout their case.
The lawyer was originally ordered to return the files, which were pivotal to taking the claim forward, following the couple’s complaint.
But court action became necessary because Mr Bailey repeatedly ignored its requests which are legally binding.
Due to Mr Bailey’s failure to transfer the files on time, Mr and Mrs Shail missed the deadline for bringing a case.
Mr Shail’s wife Elaine said the failure of the claim has had dire consequences for the family.
She said: “The claim would have helped to pay for my husband’s care and a car so that I could visit him at his care home and take him out to see family.
“Instead, we have had to take out a home equity loan. I’m afraid I’ll have nothing to pass onto my children as a result.”
Chief Ombudsman Adam Sampson said: “What this case shows is that the Legal Ombudsman has teeth. Once we have made a decision, the lawyer is required by law to comply with that decision.
“I believe it’s important we have these powers so consumers know that they can trust the ombudsman to resolve an issue.”