A Bedford man is asking others to contact him if they’ve had bad experiences with a solicitor who he made complaints against in 2019.
In 2019, George Hodges’ 85-year-old mother hired a solicitor, Mr Robin Edward Stubbings, to handle the conveyancing on the sale of her house in Putnoe.
Mr Hodges claims that Mr Stubbings mislead his family into allowing him to hold onto the deposit for the house his mother wanted to buy in Ormskirk, claiming exchange was only days away. It took another three months.
After the house purchase finally went through, Mr Stubbing held onto the remaining funds (£5099.60). Mr Hodges believes it was only through intervention by the Law Ombudsman that this money was returned.
The Law Ombudsman instructed Mr Stubbings to return the search fees as he failed to provide any evidence that he had actually applied for them (an essential step of the conveyancing process) and pay £400 compensation, the maximum amount they can award for a one-off case of this nature.
A referral was also sent to the regulators requesting they consider Mr Stubbings for misconduct.
“Had we not contacted the Ombudsman I don’t think we would have ever been paid the money he owed us,” said Mr Hodges.
Unbeknownst to Mr Hodges’ mother, Mr Stubbings from CC Bell had, at the time, recently received a heavy fine from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) after he’d failed to complete several probate matters promptly, with one taking 15 years in which time two of the beneficiaries had died.
As reported in Legal Futures, the SRA identified at least five probate matters that the solicitor did not deal with promptly. In the most egregious, probate was obtained in May 2000 with £159,000 distributed to the four residuary beneficiaries four months later.
But in July 2001, a further £36,000 was received, which Mr Stubbings did not attempt to distribute until 2014 and even then he did not succeed in doing so for a further two years.
Two of the beneficiaries had died by then and the money was distributed in accordance with their wills.
At the time, Mr Stubbings told the SRA, “when you’re dealing with a load of other stuff as well, you’re not being chased for anything [it] just lapses into the background I suppose.”
The tribunal fined Mr Stubbings £15,000.
“Although Mr Stubbings told the court he was looking forward to retiring, he did not,” George Hodges told the Bedford Independent.
Mr Hodges now hopes that others who may have felt they received poor service or similar issues with Mr Stubbings will come forward and contact him so a collective complaint can be put forward to the Law Ombudsman.
“If it is proved there is a trend the Ombudsman can take a tougher stand,” said Mr Hodges.
Anyone who would like to contact Mr Hodges can email him at GBJH.George@outlook.com.
The Bedford Independent contacted Mr Stubbings and put forward Mr Hodges’ complaints, giving him a chance to put across his side of the story, but he did not respond.