back to article Negative Trustpilot review of law firm Summerfield Browne cost aggrieved Briton £28k

A man who branded a Leicester law firm as "another scam solicitor" on review website Trustpilot has been ordered to pay it £28,500 in libel damages and legal costs. Philip Waymouth not only libelled his former solicitors after receiving what he felt to be unsatisfactory legal advice but also didn't get legal representation to …

  1. John Robson Silver badge
    Facepalm

    If you're going to represent yourself...

    ... then you do actually have to turn up and represent yourself.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: If you're going to represent yourself...

      Oh yes, not turning up is an instant lose with the beak having no real reason to disallow the damages asked because it's not their job to argue the numbers, that's what a legal defence does.

    2. Alan J. Wylie

      Re: If you're going to represent yourself...

      "The man who defends himself in court has a fool for a lawyer and a jackass for a client"

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      2. el kabong

        The man who seeks Summerfield Browne for advice has a bunch of fools...

        ...a bunch of fools and jackasses as advisers.

        FTFY

        1. monty75

          Re: The man who seeks Summerfield Browne for advice has a bunch of fools...

          “Allegedly”

          1. el kabong

            Factually!

            Have you checked their trustpilot page? The reviews there leave no room for doubt, utter carnage!

            1. Claverhouse Silver badge

              Re: Factually!

              I dunno; just checked it and whilst some ex-clients were uncomplimentary, the vast majority were as fulsome and ecstatic as if they had been written by the lawyers themselves.

              .

              https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.summerfieldbrowne.com

          2. Qumefox

            Re: The man who seeks Summerfield Browne for advice has a bunch of fools...

            I have this strange urge to slap a stack of papers now.

      3. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: If you're going to represent yourself...

        I like the similar line from the Adams Family on this

        They say that a man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. Well with God as my witness.......I am that fool!

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nF-SR2UwGQ8

      4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: If you're going to represent yourself...

        Even more so if you don't even turn up.

      5. Outski Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: If you're going to represent yourself...

        One of Sam's best, that one...

        Friday beer for Mr Clemens --->

    3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: If you're going to represent yourself...

      The only time I have ever had to take a customer to court - over an unpaid bill - didn't turn up. The judge thought this was disgraceful and asked me how much time I had spent preparing my case and how much I charged per hour. He kept saying "...and...", prompting for things I may have forgotten. I forget the amounts now, but the costs he slapped on were substantial. So, yes, it is advisable to turn up.

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: If you're going to represent yourself...

        Now that I think about it, in the ordinary tongue, failure to appear is about as profound an example of contempt of court as is possible. Sounds like the court preferred that you receive the money instead of the state...

        :D

        Good for you & good on the judge!

      2. Rustbucket

        Re: If you're going to represent yourself...

        Getting a court or tribunal to award you costs or damages is only half the battle.

        Then you actually have to get the money out of them, which can take years if they are uncooperative.

  2. Oddlegs

    New review:

    Solicitor sued me for £25k after I wrote a review expressing my dissatisfaction with their service.

    100% factual and non-libellous and it'll likely have an even greater detrimental effect on their bookings.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      If you try that, I predict a repeat sueball for the implied accusations

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Nah, that wouldn't be liabel. However, you could construe contempt of court, depending on the ruling.

    2. BenM 29
      Coat

      >>after I wrote a review expressing my...

      More correctly "after I libelled them whilst expressing my..." as established by the outcome of the case..

      >>It'll likely have an even greater detrimental effect on their bookings

      Indeed.. and open Mr Waymouth to a potential claim for damages. As Hizonnor said "He is a litigant who tends to shoot wildly from the hip.." - in this case, IMHO, he should retreat from the fray!

      Mr Waymouth would do well to take a few deep breaths and count to, i dunno, lets say, Graham's Number before taking any action he may later regret!

      Edit: spelling

    3. Solviva

      Well funnily enough, there is a 1 star review that goes along those lines, albeit that they are suing rather than they won. It also contains the post that they originally sued over and was taken down :)

      1. CuChulainn Silver badge

        One Star Review

        The problem with any review system is that - like or or not - there walks among us a group of people who cannot look at a five-star rating without being overcome with the desire to be contrarian and 'fix' it.

        It happens on Google, Amazon, and yes, TrustPilot.

        I'm not for a moment suggesting Mr Waymouth was one of those, but the times we live in do seem to prompt people to apply Facebook and Twitter language to situations which are intended to be more mature and specifically useful.

        In the past, I have gone out of my way to review excellent service on TrustPilot, even to the extent of creating a new company 'profile' (which isn't shady at all) and informing the owners. But I do cringe when I see someone say they got 'excellent service' and only award three or four stars. Or worse, award one star with either no explanation, or as a result of a postage issue which the company clearly resolved anyway.

        It's the same on Amazon. Something arrives broken, is readily refunded or replaced, and the reviewer gives it one star - which has no relevance whatsoever to the product.

        I am not judging Mr Waymouth or the solicitor in question either way. It's just that speaking personally, I always find a way forward to resolve issues so I am at least not as dissatisfied as I might have been if I'd just given up at the first hurdle. A lot of Amazon users really do appear to accept broken deliveries, and just take the hit to their pocket.

        1. Oddlegs

          Re: One Star Review

          The review problem's more fundamental than that. Providers of a service expect a 5 star review simply for doing what their job. If you buy something off ebay then it being in exactly the condition described and arriving on time is frankly the bare acceptable minimum and should really warrant an average 3/5. Instead it's expected that you give 5/5. It's the same with Uber. If the driver gets you where you want to go safely and in the predicted time they'll expect a perfect score. With most feedback systems expecting a perfect score for 'average' service it's impossible to identify truly exceptional service and leads to the issue you describe where negative reviewers feel the need to over compensate.

          1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

            Re: One Star Review

            But turn this around. Suppose Uber wants to match you with someone with a 3.5 rating. You going for that?

            When I went into the US Air Force, they used a 100 point rating system. They did some research, and found that the average was, I think 93. And that an 89 was more-or-less a career ender. So they reworked the system into a 1-5 thing. Guess what happened if you ever got a 4?

            And so it goes.

            1. CuChulainn Silver badge

              Guess what happened if you ever got a 4?

              Exactly.

              When I was in the rat race, come appraisal (pay review) time there was always some jackass in the system (it was a 360° review system) who thought it would be clever to use the 3/5 rule because 'no one is perfect'.

              It was fine as long as you never found out someone else had got 5/5, because it was extremely easy to argue how 'perfect' and them were not exactly as well acquainted as the number suggested - along with numerous examples. It was even easier to offer a few explanations about why it had happened.

              In the end, all it ever it came down to was favouritism, axes to grind, scores to settle, and God knows what else. It certainly wasn't logical.

              1. Down not across Silver badge

                Re: Guess what happened if you ever got a 4?

                When I was in the rat race, come appraisal (pay review) time there was always some jackass in the system (it was a 360° review system) who thought it would be clever to use the 3/5 rule because 'no one is perfect'.

                Performance reviews are generally a joke. Even if whole team really goes out of their way to do truly outstanding job the reviews are forced to follow the bell curve by the bellends higher up.

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            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. ChrisC Silver badge

              Re: One Star Review

              "If you buy from Ebay, get exactly what was offered, exactly on time, and with no quality issues, how can it warrant anything other than 5 stars? How could it possibly achieve 5 stars if that were the marking scheme? It would be impossible."

              What if the sender decides to stick your item in the post there and then, rather than waiting for the weekend or whenever their stated ETA would have required them to send it by, so that it arrives a few days ahead of schedule for no extra cost?

              What if the sender, instead of just using adequate quality packaging, puts in a bit of effort to ensure that your item arrives in tip top condition no matter how badly it might have been treated by the delivery service?

              What if the sender adds a nice personal note in with the item to thank you for your custom, rather than just leaving a cut-n-paste "great ebayer, would happily sell to them again" on your profile?

              You don't think any of these things might warrant rating a seller a bit higher than others, even if the others always manage to get your stuff to you one time, in good condition (possibly just through sheer good luck rather than good planning) etc. etc?

            3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: One Star Review

              "If you buy from Ebay, get exactly what was offered, exactly on time, and with no quality issues, how can it warrant anything other than 5 stars?"

              So how do you reward someone who goes above and beyond?

              1. jimmybobby

                Re: One Star Review

                The usual way - by repeat business

          3. Hawkeye Pierce

            Re: One Star Review

            Not having been in a McDonalds for years, so don't know if they still do this, but there used to be a customer service questionnaire on the back of the receipt that had a question "How accurate did we deliver your order". The options went something like "5 = Excellent, 4 = Good, 3 = OK, 2 = Poor, 1 = Very Poor".

            Now if I order a burger and fries, the acceptable accuracy of my order is a burger and fries. I'm curious as to what would constitute "Good" instead of "Excellent" (or, come to that, "Good" and "Excellent" over "OK").

            (Actually, now I come to remember it, they also pulled off the trick of it only having four possibly responses - not the five I said above. Was 4=Excellent, 3=Good, 2=OK, 1=Poor. Thus three out of the four options are neutral or better and thus human nature being what it is, you are naturally drawn to option 3 or above if you have a non-negative experience)

          4. a_builder

            Re: One Star Review

            It is funny you say that but I run an online operation that sells paint and various hardware goodies. During lockdown #1 we were one of few places you could order paint online.

            I did a good few stints on customer services and discovered the following:-

            1) we were called liars for saying packaging was hard to come by; it was absurdly hard to get some kinds of paint can packing.

            2) we were roundly abused for saying we were unable to supply certain colours; Dulux and Crown had run out actually of cans!

            3) one customer ordered 3 x 750ml cans of paint - we sent a 2.5l of the identical product for less money (we refunded some) as we had the can and packaging to hand. Customer got it 24hrs on order - we had done wrong.

            Sometimes it is close to impossible to keep everyone happy all the time no matter how much effort, honesty and integrity you apply.

            And that is before the best efforts of DPD and APC are applied to smash the consignments up!

            1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Dulux and Crown had run out actually of cans!

              No can do?

              And you were expected to carry the can.

    4. JimboSmith Silver badge

      A friend at a party showed me a website where the whole point of the site was to slag off your or any solicitors. It was a long time ago and I sadly can't remember the site name. She said I could look her up on there and find a review. Somebody who had lost a case against her client had left a very defamatory review of her. She said both the website and the reviewer had left themselves open to being sued. The reviewer had left enough info to positively identify them and the case. The legal/trade body representing solicitors was aware and preparing to take action against the site. I believe the site no longer exists.

  3. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Yeah, I don't think this legal firm has taken on what the consequences might be of the negative publicity something like this could cause them. They would have been much better to offer the guy his £200 back and asked him to remove his review as although they have come out £28k better off, they might find it costs them much more than that from the negative publicity.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      I sure wouldn't want to have dealings with them, not if there is an alternative. *shrug*

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Reputation is a thing in the legal profession, lawyers will nearly always pull out the big guns if you call them scammers in print.

      Edit: Remember, They're defending a perfect reputation until you can prove otherwise in court.

  4. MrBanana Silver badge

    I'm going through a house sale right now, and have some sympathy with the guy and his assessment of a solicitor just going through the motions. It is very frustrating to have them act purely as a middle man, offering no help or guidance. They still cannot find the definitive land registration documents, they just want me to sign off on something that "sort of" matches - nope, go do the work. On a question regarding planning permission, they seemed to have no idea about the timescales for consent and simply cut and pasted the research I had done on the internet into their legal reply. They added a singe sentence at the end, but that was 100% wrong, and I had to correct it.

    I understand his frustration, but I would be wary about making public accusations against solicitors. Not sure what the internal etiquette is for engaging a solicitor to fight another in such a direct manner. But choosing to represent yourself, and then not turning up is doomed to failure.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      > act purely as a middle man, offering no help or guidance

      It's unfortunately a money grubbing profession: They deal in mere words, and while normally those words would have to be carefully researched, many/most of the time they don't bother, assuming their client won't know the difference anyway. Cut & paste was specifically invented for them.

      Now this might sound harsh, but the number of people I know who has been let down by their solicitors is stunning. Thinking about it, I don't know anyone who can claim his solicitors made any effort worth mentioning for the money. I do know one case though where the solicitor actively worked for the opposite party, while still taking your money...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Now this might sound harsh, but the number of people I know who has been let down by their solicitors is stunning.

        In my divorce settlement the solicitors representing my wife indulged her rather than advised her, deliberately wrote letters missing one piece of information each time so my solicitor then had to write a reply at the cost of an unnecessary letter (ka-ching!) and her money ran out by the time it came to the court hearing. At least £12k of her savings down the drain. At the hearing she had no representation and the judge was clearly disgusted with the way she'd been treated.

        Because there were children involved she (we) got a 'standard' settlement anyway (this was before the Child Support Agency came into force) so it was all for no benefit.

        If the CSA had been in place we'd have saved £20k.

    2. Steve K Silver badge

      Conveyancing

      Unless you are dealing with a very small outfit, the conveyancing work is done by non-solicitors (Legal Technicians?).

      They have a pile of stuff to work through and once they have responded (i.e. not necessarily answered) to a query then it goes to the bottom of the pile until they have worked through everything else.

      You are normally much better dealing with a smaller outfit for house purchases but usually Banks etc. seem to want to use their tame conveyancers rather than your own choice. This means that they screw the costs down, and the service quality declines - which is not what you want with legal services!

      I have experienced this myself, with having to send the same paperwork through 3 times to whoever HSBC's chosen conveyancers were on a house purchase, and the same questions being asked again and again. Even to the extent that the purchase almost fell through because of the delays that this introduced....

      If I had been able to use my local firm of solicitors then everything would have proceeded smoothly and competently as it had in the past.

    3. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      New Business

      @MrBanana: my experience too. I bought my house with no chain and no other problems and if I hadn't phoned the solicitor every day the sale would have taken weeks longer than it did. She kept apologising about how busy they were, but when I booked an appointment under a different name to talk about drawing up a letting agreement she had plenty of time available and was most surprised when I turned up to find out why my sale was taking so long. I think that, like most solicitors, the practice was more focused on winning new business than executing what they had.

      1. JimC

        Re: New Business

        You can replace 'like most solicitors' with 'like most banks/insurance companies/utility companies/ISPs/mobile phone companies/etc etc'

        The 21st C seems to specialise in god awful customer service. I suppose its because so much business is driven by search/comparison etc, but it's depressing.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: New Business

          > You can replace 'like most solicitors' with 'like most banks/insurance companies/utility companies/ISPs/mobile phone companies/etc etc'

          You're right, but a solicitor is somebody you pay to help you in a serious situation. It's not about mere creature comforts.

          The others are admittedly just there to make money out of you. Especially banks, which just take your money out of your hands and if you're well-behaved let you use some of it. For a fee.

    4. fwthinks

      For me, the equivalent would be to bring your computer to PC World and expecting a highly trained engineer with years of experience to immediately fix your issue. What you might get is a part time teenager on minimum wage who uses google to try to work out what is happening.

      The only difference is that solicitors have a much higher starting fee, meaning you think should be getting much more for your money.

    5. BazNav

      Fixed fee vs hourly rate

      Recently I've had to deal with two lawyers on different matters.

      The conveyancing solicitor was on a fixed fee and was an absolute nightmare throughout and I still didn't have confirmation of the purchase until I got a call at 09:15 on the day of the move to say they were sorry but they'd forgotten to tell me everything had gone through.

      The other solicitor was charging by the hour. She was really good and kept me well informed throughout the process.

      I guess it just goes to show you get what you pay for. If you want the conveyancing solicitor to care about your purchase then pay them by the hour.

    6. Alan Brown Silver badge

      You can leave bad reviews

      Just make sure the words you use are not actionable

      "spectacularly unhappy with the work done" is an opinion, etc

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Avoid challenging "experts"

    He tried to challenge lawyers.....hmm.. I think I know where I'd place my bet.

    Having said that I sympathise with him and can feel his frustration with being charged a load of money for what seems like very little. I once visited a recommended BUPA back specialist for 20 minutes who charged me £400 to say it was just wear and tear (my back eventually got better over a number of years - mostly from not sitting for too long and moving about more)

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Avoid challenging "experts"

      I am sure that solicitors/doctors/etc. have similar stories about costly IT fixes though...

      It's not tapping the box that costs, it's knowing where/how to tap.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Avoid challenging "experts"

        How can they?

        We're all honest in IT. Making the animations in Windows shorter does make your machine faster.

        What? You calling me a liar?

    2. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Avoid challenging "experts"

      "I once visited a recommended BUPA back specialist for 20 minutes who charged me £400 to say it was just wear and tear (my back eventually got better over a number of years - mostly from not sitting for too long and moving about more)"

      So he was right then, and you're complaining about the expert assessment that said so? This is the flip side, people who pay to see an expert then don't value the advice given. If he'd noticed anything worse with your back then he'd have said so and presumably you'd be even more financially worse off. What did you want him to do, send you for more expensive tests to make it seem like he'd given you more?

      Now where's that joke about the expert knowing where to chalk an x on a piece of machinery...

      1. TWB

        Re: Avoid challenging "experts"

        "So he was right then, and you're complaining about the expert assessment that said so?" - Yes I'm complaining because he suggested it was just as good as it was going to be and never gave me any advice or suggestions how to improve matters (he said nothing about reduced sitting down and more moving about - my life/job changed to bring that about).

        Since my back got better his expert assessment was wrong.

        As value for money goes it was crap (£1200/hr?). I have had much better from private Physiotherapists, Yoga, Pilates, Chiropractors - at lest they made suggestions to help matters,

        1. claimed

          Re: Avoid challenging "experts"

          Eh? You ask a specialist to diagnose what's wrong, they do their job, you complain about it...

          You're quite right physios etc will give you exercises to improve overall strength etc but if you have an actual problem that could do more harm.

          Look at it the other way, instead of spending weeks visiting lots of non-specialists who all scratch their heads and refer you (this happens a lot, I have family members whove spent *years* on similar roundabouts with less happy endings), you've taken a short cut and got on with your life. Lucky you.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Avoid challenging "experts"

            "Eh? You ask a specialist to diagnose what's wrong, they do their job, you complain about it..."

            The expert said it was "wear and tear". And yet it eventually got better over time. That seems a bit counter intuitive to me. Something suffering from "wear and tear" invariably get worse with time and continued use, not better. I'd want to know a lot more about the case and what the expert said before coming to a conclusion but my gut is telling me the expert was wrong.

            1. claimed

              Re: Avoid challenging "experts"

              The conclusion that they did their job? I didn't say right or wrong. Just because you're an expert doesnt preclude you being wrong, so my conclusion seems sound to me...

              Anyway, who says wear and tear cannot be counteracted, and the negative effects reduced without repair? For example using lubricant on a bike chain or hinge, or shoving match sticks into the hole of a screw. Anyway, point is, we're all glad the back has improved, and we're all wrong sometimes. I'm pretty sure (non-negligent) surgeons get paid even if you die on the operating table due to them making the wrong call - some calls are just hard to make.

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    The legal mafia ...

    look after their own.

    There are plenty of crap solicitors around. Some act so as to increase what they charge you. Others do not seem to know what they are doing, eg when buying a house nothing happens and both sides blame the other for the delay.

    There are also some good ones. It is hard to tell the difference until you have been through the case.

    1. TWB

      Re: The legal mafia ...

      "look after their own"

      Unfortunately it is not just the legal profession - most professions (mine included) seem to close ranks when somethings goes "bad-PR" - I think the legal profession are probably the most proficient at it as they are good at understanding/interpreting/bending "rules"

      Sad but probably a fact of life.

      Occasionally a professional will put their head above the parapet and actually admit they did something which was not their best work and I applaud that.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: The legal mafia ...

      99% of solicitors give the rest a bad name.

  7. Peter Galbavy

    Oh! Look! The legal profession sided with the legal profession. I am shocked!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Out of interest, if the legal profession attacked itself would we have a matter / anti-matter situation?

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      re: The legal profession sided with the legal profession.

      That's what you took from that? Not "Idiot libels law firm then doesn't turn up to defend himself in court"?

      Difficult for the judge to side with him if he can't be arsed to turn up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: The legal profession sided with the legal profession.

        Read the published judgement - the guy basically couldn't afford representation, had a £6k cost order slapped on him before the hearing, and didn't want to turn up undefended against a law firm with their big guns; he did however write to the court to set out his case, albeit as a lay person. It is a legal principle that judges are supposed to ensure 'equality of arms' but I've never seen it happen in reality. It seems to me his non-attendance just provides another excuse for the court to do what they were likely to do anyway. Shame on British justice, as usual.

        https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2021/85.html

  8. Blackjack Silver badge

    Has this legal firm never heard of the Streisand effect?

    Unless they also get a court order to delere any news about this judgment, anyone looking for this firm online will know they went to court just because a bad review online.

    1. AW-S

      Re: Has this legal firm never heard of the Streisand effect?

      I was thinking the same - and would naturally steer well clear of Summerfield Browne Ltd now, even if Waymouth was wrong.

      Having looked at their website and in particular the bottom of their home page, I am at a loss to know how they are members of "LinkedIn" and "Facebook", alongside of "The Law Society" and the "Solicitors Regulation Authority". Now if, like me, they were members of The Tufty Club, I would trust them (literally with my life).

      Perhaps unsurprisingly this court decision hasn't made it to their Latest News page.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Has this legal firm never heard of the Streisand effect?

      If Limey shysters are anything like the ones over here I doubt they are smart enough to understand the Streisand Effect.

    3. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Has this legal firm never heard of the Streisand effect?

      Why? They won this case of libel against their esteemed selves.

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      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: that man got what he wanted

        A 28k fine

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Nik 2

      Re: law

      One question springs to mind - why didn't the Shysters sue TrustPilot? After all they were the ones who published the Libel.

      TrustPilot are the distributor of the material, and will have covered their responsibilities by requiring the poster to confirm that the review was a true statement of his opinion (the judge ruled that it was not). There's probably also a full indemnity clause in the Ts & Cs box we all tick to say we've read.

      1. john 103

        Re: law

        Thanks for the nice informed answer.

  11. PPCNI

    They also need some professional advice on how negative online reviews should be responded to - https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.summerfieldbrowne.com?stars=1

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  12. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Covid angle

    Maybe the guy couldn't attend due to Covid lockdown rules. Either way it seems suspicious that there are tens of thousands of serious criminal cases backlogged due to Covid yet a huffy lawyer gets court time.

    1. CuChulainn Silver badge

      Re: Covid angle

      Possibly, but reading a more detailed summary it would seem that the decision was made last August, itself a follow-on from a July hearing, suggesting it had been going on for much longer than that.

      That article indicates that Mr Waymouth did not attend either hearing - both of which were held remotely - and made no attempt to engage with Summerfield Browne's dispute resolution process.

      I'm not defending either him or Summerfield Browne, nor am I condemning either of them. There is a suggestion he might have rushed his review before several other things he perhaps ought to have done first.

      1. el kabong

        He's not alone

        Look here https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.summerfieldbrowne.com?stars=1

        1. CuChulainn Silver badge

          Re: He's not alone

          Yes, I've seen. The one star reviews represent 7% of reviews.

          92% rate them as great/excellent, and 1% rates them as average. That's why they have an overall 4.6 out of 5 rating.

          If you were coming in cold, it's hardly a company you'd avoid based on these reviews.

          It is also worth reading some of the company's replies to those one star reviews. In one case, the reviewer is identified as not even being one of their clients, but is connected with another client who has a dispute!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: He's not alone

            We get a lot of that. Negative reviews from people we've never even worked with.

            Thankfully TrustPilot will usually take those down when we raise the issue.

            Google Reviews on the other hand... they don't accept take-down requests unless they come with a court judgement.

            1. Colin Bull 1
              Mushroom

              Re: He's not alone

              "We get a lot of that. Negative reviews from people we've never even worked with."

              I am in discussion with Truspilot over reviews I have posted about Indian call centre calls on behalf of UK companies. How can I prove I had a unsolicited call from a spammer using a spoofed number. Well I have a crackly voice recording AND an email from them to a honeypot address. The default response is to deny any communication with you. Will wait and see if Trustpilot are neutral or on the side of the advertisers

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    1. Sceptic Tank

      Re: Pay the fine in full.

      In some countries there are limits to what you can pay using coins.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pay the fine in full.

        This is also true in England & Wales (and therefore Leicester). From the Bank of England website:

        "Legal tender has a narrow technical meaning which has no use in everyday life. It means that if you offer to fully pay off a debt to someone in legal tender, they can’t sue you for failing to repay."

        "There are also some restrictions when using small coins. For example, 1p and 2p coins only count as legal tender for any amount up to 20p."

        Sorry.

        1. stiine Silver badge

          Re: Pay the fine in full.

          So, offer to pay in installments, in person, in cash, of 1£, and request a hand-written receipt (just to give them writing practice).

    2. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Pay the fine in full.

      Except that cash transactions are regulated in some countries, for example with respect to how many small coins you are allowed to use. At least this is the case (or used to be) for stores, who could basically tell you to bu....... be gone when trying something like that.

      So: no cylindrical smokey thingy.

    3. sed gawk Silver badge

      Re: Pay the fine in full.

      1p - for any amount not exceeding 20p

      I don't think that will work - from royal mint https://www.royalmint.com/help/trm-faqs/legal-tender-amounts/

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Pay the fine in full.

        You'll note that you can use £1 coins for any amount, or 50p for up to £10

        25,000 £1 coins is a large volume and mass

        if he's paying in £10 chunks then he can use 50p each time.

        incidentally when handling large volumes of coin (or actual metal coins), banks WEIGH them rather than counting them. This method gets rather screwed up if the coins are not _clean_

        In a lot of countries the mass ratios of coins are set, so that £20 of copper coins would weigh the same whether it's 1 or 2p, or a mixture. Ditto £10 of 5/10/20/50p coins.

        At that point sorting is only done as a matter of "size sifting", weigh the results

        To _really_ screw things up, add a few foreign coins of approximately the right size (but different mass) in - this means the batches have to be more manually inspected to find the rogue item

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: "size sifting"

          The old ticket machines on the Underground were a masterpiece of design. I'm talking about the pre-decimal type that were converted to decimal. When you put a bunch of coins in together they would be loaded onto a rotating disk that assessed the coins according to size, thickness, whether they were milled or not circular, whether they had a hole in the middle (instant rejection), and at least a couple of metal detection tests magnetic and alloy ratio (which had to be disabled as coins make-up became debased). Only when all these tests were complete did each coin get accepted and ticket dispensed. The coins that were rejected were returned to the customer. This last point sounds obvious, but...

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Pay the fine in full.

          "To _really_ screw things up, add a few foreign coins of approximately the right size (but different mass) in - this means the batches have to be more manually inspected to find the rogue item"

          ISTR that many years ago when the one shilling coin was still in circulation as an equivilent to a new 5p coin, it turned out on a school visit to Germany, that one shilling coin was close enough to a 1DM coin that vending machines would accept them. ISTR the exchange rate at the time was 1DM = 26p. I have it on good authority that the following years school exchange visit involved quite some number of pupils taking relatively large amounts of their "pocket money" in one shilling coins. If I was one of those who inadvertently put one or more one shilling coins into a German vending machine, then I apologise most profusely for that quite understandable mistake, considering the similar size and weight of the said coins.

    4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I do so enjoy being Creatively Vindictive. *Evil giggle*

      There's absolutely nothing "creative" in your comment; that is such a cliched suggestion.

    6. Graham 32

      Re: Pay the fine in full.

      Even if you were right, you would have to wait while they counted it before they gave a receipt.

  14. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    When I bought my first property I used the solicitor recommended by the Estate Agent

    Now you're probably thinking that is a bad idea.

    On the contrary, just the mention of her name when experiencing bureaucracy caused red tape to just vanish.

    An example of this was when the property was later threatened with blight due to plans submitted by the neighbouring church. She actually got the office junior to go to the Town Hall to review the plans and then suggested I buy the Freehold. Upon applying to extend my mortgage the Building Society branch manager was emphatic that I could not do this. "Well my solicitor recommended I do it." "Who's your solicitor?" On mentioning her name he said "If Meg says it's ok, then fine, do it."

    On a subsequent sale/purchase I was told she had retired. Casually mentioning this to an estate agent who was showing us round various properties he said "Oh no, she's not retired at all, here's her number."

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: When I bought my first property I used the solicitor recommended by the Estate Agent

      A friend also bought a property via a recommended solicitor, but this was a new build and the solicitor was recommended by the construction company.

      Things didn't go as planned, construction was delayed and the financial market changing so much their mortgage offer was in doubt. They were on the hook for a large deposit. They spoke to a solicitor friend of mine about what to do and he suggested writing to their compliance department, suggesting that they hadn't been fully appraised of the risks of this because the solicitors also advised the firm.

      That's how it's done. Quietly but with a good argument, to compliance, with the prospect of taking it up to a professional body. Not on fucking Trustpilot. My friends were the first in the subdivision to move into their rapidly completed house.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: When I bought my first property I used the solicitor recommended by the Estate Agent

        "this was a new build and the solicitor was recommended by the construction company."

        RED FLAG ALERT!

        That's a conflict of interest.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: When I bought my first property I used the solicitor recommended by the Estate Agent

          Well, yes, precisely. But you can can see how it happens: "we're interested in buying but don't know what to do next - can you recommend a solicitor?". Any salesmen would jump at the chance if they can get a signature on the contract, conflict be damned.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He should have hired a no win no fee law firm for defence

    1. el kabong

      I know of a law firm who would be glad to take his case

      It is called Summerfield Browne solicitors, they do excellent work.

    2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      I would be surprised if anyone working defense would make such an offer.

  17. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    I guess I've been lucky...

    No real experience of having to use legal experts other than buying houses and such like, but I've never had any issues.

    The only time I had an issue was with an executorship issue over one of my parents wills where the solicitors were utter obstructive bastards, but a formal letter to the Law Society sorted that out quite quickly.

  18. IHateWearingATie

    So, reading the story it was actually the "scam solicitor" bit that meant he was lost?

    Otherwise he might have won. That's nearly £10k cost per word!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well spotted. Sometimes it's the little things that matter.

      I was prosecuted and three prosecution witnesses provided hand written statements, which I received in the original paperwork, confirming I had shown them a valid ticket for my journey. But still I was prosecuted for fare evasion. A few days before court I received a new pack of witness statements - part of a comprehensive disclosure pack I requested at a previous hearing - which now had the three witnesses claiming I refused to show them my season ticket. This annoyed me.

      I spoke with a close friend, one of England's leading barristers, and told him this. We had already agreed I should continue to defend myself in court because (a) I can act and speak well and with authority, (b) I don't normally wear a tie* and (c) as a litigant in person you are cut a little more slack by the Clerk.

      BUT - he told me that under no circumstances should I accuse the three prosecution witnesses of being liars or dishonest for changing their statements. He taught me that you just get the witnesses to confirm their actions and let the court decide for itself whether they could be trusted. It worked - and all three made themselves look dishonest and unreliable.

      * ah the tie. Well he told me to dress down and not wear a tie - be myself. Affirm rather than swear an oath and not pretend to be a Christian (I'm atheist). He predicted that the three witnesses would be wearing suits, white shirts, ties and shiny black shoes - and would all be Christians. The were. They looked and probably felt very nervous and uncomfortable. I actually enjoyed cross examining them - in true Rumpole style. Each were on the receiving end of 34 very awkward questions from me.

      Naturally the Court found me NOT guilty - but the clerk told me they had absolutely no interest in the conduct of the prosecution witnesses or the prosecuting authority.

      1. Rol Silver badge

        I read some useful advice that suggested bringing along two well dressed friends.

        They sit in court and go through the motions of taking notes, sometimes leaving the court to "confer".

        What they are doing is acting very much like the officials who sit in on hearings to assess the competence of judges, much like Michelin does with restaurants - supposedly, unannounced and incognito.

        The effect on the judge can be quite profound, as their natural bias to side with the police's/council's/government's interpretation of events gets reset to impartial.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          > They sit in court and go through the motions of taking notes, sometimes leaving the court to "confer".

          This might well backfire:

          I'm minded of what happened in the Prenda Law cases when Prenda principals started showing up to "observe" various cases they'd farmed out across the USA

          Judges stopped proceedings and demanded to know who the observers were, what their affiliations were and why they were taking notes. The results were crucial in exposing the operation and subsequent criminal prosecution of Prenda's directors/principals

          1. Rol Silver badge

            I assume jurisdictions outside of the UK run differently.

            As a note, it would be useful if we could all agree that where the comment fails to identify the nation where their anecdote/story/experience is being played out, that it is in the UK.

            I appreciate this publication is international, but it has been UK centric for such a long time.

  19. Dolvaran

    Anyone who believes that a solicitor has acted improperly on their behalf has a very simple way of addressing that grievance - complain to the Law Society. Complaints are taken seriously, and if found to be valid, the implications for the solicitor in question can be serious.

    And no, I don't work for TLS.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      I have a friend who's observed a lawyer in North London "acquire" the property holdings of various geriatric clients as they've lost control of their faculties, resulting in their families inheriting nothing whilst the properties concerned became personally owned by that lawyer

      The same lawyer utterly screwed the pooch in handling some of my matters, let the other side get away with apparent egrarious legal aid abuse (how exactly does someone obtain legal aid when they have a partner earning ~£250k/year?)

      TLS has shown zero interest in investigating

  20. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Don't give 1-star reviews

    The deadly ones are 2 star ones. Everyone assumes 1-star are axe grinders

  21. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Truth is a defence

    If the defendent can prove that what they said was the truth, then that is a defence to libel. Unfortunately it seems from this article that the defendent did not set out exactly what he instructed the solicitor to do, and why he believes the solicitor did not do what they were instructed to do, which makes it impossible to determine whether his review was or was not the truth.

    Many people get upset with their solicitor and decide that the solicitor is incompetant (or worse) if the solicitor gives them an honest opinion based on the law rather than telling them what they want to hear. Although there are also plenty of cases where the solicitor really has given no thought to the matter nor done even the minimum research, and just taken the money while giving an inaccurate stock reply and nothing of value in return. If the facts had been set out by the defendent, the judge could have determined which situation applied in this case.

  22. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Re: Legal Tender

    Whilst working on the prototype Fare Collection system at Vauxhall there were many interesting customers pitching up to buy tickets. I remember one guy in particular who deposited a load of shrapnel ("bronze" coins) in the coin bowl and stated the ticket he wanted. "Sorry sir, that's not legal tender" said the clerk. Brief heated argument ensued with impatient queue behind him growing. To reinforce his argument that he was perfectly entitled to submit whatever coinage he wanted, this guy got out his cheque book and said "See these letters L - L - B. after my name: I'm a lawyer, I know what I am talking about." "That may be the case" said the clerk (and I paraphrase here), "but it is at my discretion as to who I issue tickets to, and I am using that discretion to refuse to sell you a ticket on the basis I previously stated."

    Afterwards the clerk got his rule-book out to show me and there were clear guidelines in there as to what was not acceptable.

  23. ShadowDragon8685

    I do wonder if the good folk at Dewey Cheatum and Howe - I mean, Summerfield Browne - have ever heard of the Streisand Effect.

    This is not exactly the Streisand Effect, it is however adjacent to it. Now people searching for information about Summerfield Browne will learn that they sued a dissatisfied former client for ~150 times the price they charge, without ever addressing the merits of his complaint, which appear to be very problematic on the face of them, if they did, indeed, simply rehash the details of the situation as he presented to them and return those details to him.

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