Your legal questions answered by Fahmida Ismail, Partner at Sydney Mitchell LLP. As featured in Worcester News, 17th March 2015.

Q. I have a compensation claim going through following an accident in a supermarket. I have a “no win, no fee” agreement with a solicitor, but I’ve lost confidence in the firm and I feel we’re going to lose. Can I transfer my case to another solicitor at this stage?

A. You have a right to change solicitors if you wish, although the no-win, no fee agreement may mean your current solicitors will want paying. Normally though they will agree to an undertaking from your new firm to seek recovery of their reasonable costs and to preserve their lien (control) over the file of papers. It may be different with disbursements (fees incurred) which are usually paid by the other side if you win or by the insurer that underwrites the no-win, no fee agreement. So they may insist that those disbursements are paid.

 

Q. My partner recently died. She said I was to have any money that was in her bank account, but unfortunately she didn’t make a will. Am I still entitled to this money, or does it have to go to probate? 

A. If there is less than £5,000 in the account (or in some cases less than £15,000) the bank won’t necessarily require to see a Grant of Probate to release the money. But the bank will only release the money to the person who is entitled to it, and that will be your partner’s closest relative, not you. If you lived together for more than two years it’s possible you have a claim on her estate, but you may have to go to court to establish this. It obviously wouldn’t be worthwhile for small amounts. I suggest you discuss what is to become of the money with your partner’s family.

 

Q. I live in a block of flats with a secure car park covered by CCTV. My car was damaged but no-one has admitted responsibility and the CCTV tapes hadn’t been changed so there is no record of the accident. There are no disclaimer notices in the car park. Who is responsible for the damage and costs I and my insurance company have incurred?

A. You may be able to claim compensation from the landlord. Since there are no disclaimer notices on display you can probably argue that the landlord implicitly agreed to look after your car by installing a CCTV system. His negligence in failing to ensure that there is CCTV footage of the incident will strengthen your case. Send the landlord a bill. If he doesn’t pay up you will then have to decide whether it’s worth the cost and effort of pursuing the case in the County Court.

 

For further information on any of the issues raised, please contact Fahmida Ismail on 0121 698 2200 or fill in our online enquiry form.

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