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I'd like to apologise if this is long winded or if I've posted in the wrong section or I've used incorrect terminology, secondly thank you in advance if anyone can help with advice.

This is two questions in one post.

In March 2022 we instructed a solicitor to help in resolving a dispute with our neighbor in which their builders caused £10,000+ worth of damage to our roof and even more damage to their own roof when they were having a dormer fitted and we have a total communication breakdown with our neighbour (we had a solicitor previous but they didn't specialise in property litigation and our neighbours were giving us the runaround)

During the initial stages working with the new solicitor in March we were advised that we would need an advice note that would set out the options available to us and we were given a price no idea if this was a reasonable price or not.

I made the solicitor fully aware that I didn't want to be sending letters back and forth to our neighbour regarding anything other than the facts of the matter as this was done previously to no avail and he said that wouldn't be the case.

We were advised that court should be the last option and we would need to strengthen our case significantly in the form of witness statements to determine whether it was a viable option.

We agreed to send the neighbour a letter asking to settle out of court in the hope it may pave the way for some kind of discussion or at least negotiation so that when it ended up in court it would show that we've tried but as I expected had no effect whatsoever.

we have tried to speak to our neighbours since everything went south(including a fair few roof tiles)and have lived next door to them for 30 years and they just denied everything and became aggressive and abusive, when we arrange to meet to try and resolve the issue (after allowing their new roofs access on to our roof to carry out their repairs) which I recorded as i suspected they would pull a stunt and as soon as i had left their property they rang the police, I presume this was to try and provoke a reaction from us in the hope we would go around to their house shouting so they could record it on their ring doorbell so they could claim we were the aggressors to try and get out of fixing the roof, they also told the previous solicitor that if we can provide all this evidence that they requested they will look to fix the roof. They gave no prior warning to the work being carried out, 4 chimney breast were knocked out, a dormer was fitted and there was no party wall agreement, when i questioned them about having no party wall agreement their response was "why are you still moaning the time for a party wall agreement has been and gone and get over it". (that information isn't really relevant to my post but it is an example of why we can't negotiate any kind of resolution with them.)

I contacted the solicitor a few months ago re court proceedings and he said the next step would be to have a barrister look over the case and things went silent.

We have paid in the ball park of £4000 inc VAT and that includes 1 letter being sent to the neighbour we have the dispute with regarding an out of court settlement.

We had then spent another £4,000 getting the evidence from an expert witness in the form of a part 35 report to strengthen our case.

Fast Forward

2 weeks ago I contacted the solicitor to ask for an update on getting into court as we just want the matter resolved as we were no further forward than when we started and we have had this dispute with a neighbour for 18 months.

I was dumbfounded when I receive an email saying that court wasn't a viable option and that the neighbours already had a charging order against their house that dated back to 2008 for an unknown amount as they had previously lost a court case and couldn't pay the debt and he sent me a list of other alternative options.

This was quite a revelation that surely should have been disclosed to me in my original advice note as it would have impacted what path we wanted to try and take. It seems this information was either overlooked due to a lack of due care and attention or it was withheld from me for some unknown reason, considering the land registry was used to gather information back in March when our advice note was being written I didn't know how this was missed.

In the last phone call i had with our solicitor (7 days ago) i wanted to know when he became aware of the charging order and why i was only just being told in which he fumbled around and was very vague and said court action was never a viable option anyway and he was steering me to get it resolved out of court, as taking them to court for £17,000 would incur court fees of 10-20k (could anybody confirm this is the case or is he trying put me off)

When I've searched online it says the court fees for above 10k and below 200k are 5% of your claim?

I question him about small claims court and would that be a viable option and he chuckled, fumbled a little more and surprisingly said he was just about to suggest that. (My only problem is the damage alone is just over £10,000 and I'm not sure if it's possible to claim my solicitors cost back from my neighbours considering they have not been amicable and made it difficult at every point and just said we are lying about all the damage even though they have constantly got roofers on the roof trying to patch up their own leaks.

I told the solicitor I need to think about what my next step is going to be moving forward and he told me that was no problem and if I need anything to let him know.

Our solicitor is advising us just keep sending shorter cheaper letters at around £500 plus VAT per letter and to send 2 separate letters one trying to coax them into an out of court settlement again and then a without prejudice letter (during our initial interaction he said letter tennis is something he wanted to avoid as we had done this.)

So far we have paid
£1200 inc VAT for advice note
£600 plus VAT to instruct the expert witness.
£750 plus VAT to send the neighbours a letter
(There was also another cost but I can't remember what that was for without going through months of emails)

I then received another email of the solicitor he's requesting another £900 inc VAT with no actual brake down of what the money is for other than this is the cost you have incurred for talking to me on the phone to explain why the case was not viable and that he sent me some more legal advice (that i didn't ask) and he sent an email that was one line long to the neighbours asking for an ETA of when we would likely be hearing from their solicitor and their surveyor.

I've paid all but the last bill.
I understand that solicitors are expensive because we are paying for what they know.

We've been trying to press forward to get a resolution and he's completely took a u-turn and giving me completely different information and im left with no money and a leaking roof. In hindsight we are worse off now as the 8k could have gone towards fixing the roof (not that it was our mess to be fixing in the first place), but instead I'm 8k down and still have 10k worth of damage to my roof.

The solicitor did ask a few months ago if we had home insurance that cover legal fees and looking back I think that's when his thought process may have changed.

I feel so stupid as I'm now back at square one, it doesn't seem right that someone can damage your property and there's nothing you can do about it.

Can anybody shed any light on any of this. 



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