Solicitors in serious brain injury cases often have cause to sack barristers and question whether the family is acting in the best interests of their injured relative, according to a survey.
But a separate poll of case managers accused solicitors of failing to act in their clients’ best interests.
The survey of 132 claimant solicitors was carried out by Exchange Chambers, which has offices in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool.
It found that three-quarters of claimant solicitors have experienced a situation where they believed the family has not acted in the best interests of their injured relative.
Also, six out of 10 solicitors had had cause to sack a barrister. Reasons included poor communication skills, lack of enthusiasm, and lack of specialist knowledge.
Almost as many solicitors had had reason to sack a case manager, more than a quarter for failing to gain the family’s trust.
In other findings, six out of 10 solicitors felt case managers did not have a role to play in the management of the litigation while nearly a third believed case managers had wasted money.
However, a parallel survey of more than 140 case managers carried out by personal injury solicitors Nockolds – which has offices in London and Bishop’s Stortford and specialises in complex cases – found that while many agreed families had acted against the interests of the client, even more had found solicitors wanting.
In that survey, eight out of 10 said the had encountered situations where claimant solicitors had “clearly not acted in the best interests of the client”. Almost seven out of 10 had experienced similar situations where families had acted badly.
Bill Braithwaite QC, head of Exchange Chambers, defended families’ motives and cautioned that lawyers should take care not to impose their views.
He said: “In my experience, families almost always have the best interests of their injured relative at heart, even if it is not immediately obvious.
“Lawyers and experts sometimes fall into the trap of trying to impose their ideas on to families, which only succeeds in creating tension and conflict.
“The views of the family must always be respected and considered. They know the injured person better than anyone else.”
The barrister also pushed back on the notion that case managers should not be involved in litigation: “So much of the litigation is bound up with the injured person and the family, and the plan for life, that it seems to me to be obvious that the case manager should be involved in some part of the litigation process.”
Rachel Davis, a chartered legal executive at Nockolds, said: “There is clearly a perception that family members and solicitors are, on occasions, not acting in the best interests of the injured person…
“It is particularly worrying because in serious injury cases, traumatic brain injury for example, survivors are likely to have complex long-term problems affecting their personality, their relationships and their ability to lead an independent life.
“They are extremely vulnerable and often dependent on the support of those around them.”