Second Opinion - Care Proceedings
You don't have to stay! - Empowering parents of children subject to care proceedings to change solicitor if they are unhappy
Nobody wants to change solicitor halfway through care proceedings which can be stressful as it is, but what do you do if you are unhappy with the service you have received?
The purpose of this is to reassure and empower parents who are dissatisfied with their solicitor to act and seek advice or second opinion as soon as possible from specialist care proceedings solicitors. This is aimed at parents and intervenors involved in care proceedings.
Are you right in wanting to change solicitor?
In our experience, we have taken over many cases from other solicitors where parents have been unhappy with the service provided by their previous solicitor. The reasons for their dissatisfaction have varied but in all cases, their concerns were justified.
In our experience, the three most common reasons parents wish to change solicitor partway through care proceedings are:
- Not being kept updated; and
- Concerns not being taken seriously or ignored.
Delay and failure to update
The common complaint is that the parents had not heard from their solicitors for some time. Calls are unanswered and are never returned. Understandable parents will justifiably feel being left in the dark not knowing what is going on in complex care proceedings where the outcome may be that their children are removed from their care.
In our experience we have, after reviewing the file agreed the previous solicitors failed to keep the parent updated and had made little progress in advancing the parents’ position.
Ignoring parent’s concerns
We have had parents transfer their case where the parents feel their concerns are not being taking seriously by the previous solicitor.
It is clear that parents are extremely stressed when social services are involved with the families’ children and the local authority have removed them from their care on an interim basis.
Kings solicitors are exceptionally experienced at identifying the issues at the heart of the proceedings and offering proactive advice to minimise the risk of the removal of the children permanently. This may involve making early admissions of failures on the part of the parents in the care of the children where appropriate so that an action plan can be agreed with the local authority to attend the appropriate courses or request support from social workers to minimise the local authorities concerns and avoid a repeat.
Sometimes injuries to children are classified by the local authority as non-accidental injuries where in reality they are accidental. In such cases it is important to provide very detailed statements addressing the allegations and putting forward a compelling account of how the injury actually occurred.
What are the barriers to changing solicitor and what is the process?
The two main barriers to people making the decision to change solicitor are:
- Telling the current solicitor that you want to change, and
- If legal aid can be transferred.
Some parents delay seeking advice about changing solicitor because they worry about having to tell their current solicitor that they wish to transfer their case. Although this is understandable, it shouldn’t stop you taking action because once you have instructed Kings Solicitors to take over your case, we will deal with everything for you. There is no need for you to speak to your previous solicitor again.
In practical terms changing solicitor is a simple process which involves you signing a form of authority requesting that the previous solicitor send their file to Kings solicitors and the previous solicitors agreeing to transfer legal aid by providing the legal aid certificate reference number. In most cases solicitors will comply with your request once you have expressed unhappiness of their handling of your case so far.
If you decide that you would like Kings Solicitors to take over conduct of your claim, there will be no need for you to contact your previous solicitors again. We will ask you to sign and return a form of authority in order to obtain a copy of your file. We will then write to your previous solicitors on your behalf.
Problems with your solicitor
There are various problems that you may be experiencing with your solicitor. Here are some of the most common reasons why you may wish to change your solicitor:
- The individual dealing with your cases is not suitably qualified;
- You are unable to contact your solicitor, or they do not return your calls and emails;
- The person dealing with your case keeps changing within the firm;
- Your solicitor is not providing you with regular updates about your case;
- It seems as if no progress has been made over the last months of your case;
- You have not been provided with sufficient contact;
- You are unhappy with the opinion of your solicitor handling your case you do not feel that the solicitor has properly understood the critical aspects of your case and will not do anything to help change this.
- You do not have a good relationship with your solicitor dealing with your case;
- Support for you and/or your family members has been neglected.
How we can help
You will always have an experienced lawyer dealing with your case We provide you with the direct telephone, mobile and email contact details of your solicitor. We return calls and respond to emails promptly. We work flexibly, so will be available to speak to you outside of office hours if you have any burning questions, at a time convenient to everyone. We provide our clients with regular updates through every stage of the care proceedings.
We instruct reputable and reliable Barristers if required. When choosing these individuals, we keep in mind not just their expertise, but also the likely rapport that they will have with you.
If you decide that you would like us to take over conduct of your claim, there will be no need for you to contact your previous solicitors again. We will ask you to sign and return a form of authority in order to obtain a copy of your file. We will then write to your previous solicitors on your behalf.
If Social Services or the Police are seeking to remove your child on an emergency basis outside normal office hours, please contact our 24hr emergency help line on: 07577 30 40 50 any time for immediate help.