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PostPosted: July 3rd, 2010, 2:13 pm 
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Joined: June 4th, 2007, 4:21 pm
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Location: London
Concerns that a conflict of interest existed within the Law Society of England and Wales between their representative function and regulatory function were included in a review of the regulatory framework for legal services carried out by Sir David Clementi in 2004. The Law Society set up the allegedly independent and impartial Legal Complaints Service to handle consumer complaints.

However the Legal Services Act was passed into law in 2007 which amongst other things sets up a new system for dealing with consumer complaints.

The Legal Complaints Service will no longer be accepting complaints from 6th October 2010 and their helpline will close. They will however continue to deal with existing complaints, at this moment in time.

The Office of Legal Complaints will open its doors on 6th October 2010 and is a non-departmental “public” body as opposed to a “professional” body which is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice but will paid for by solicitors practicing in the jurisdiction by a levy.

The Office of Legal Complaints has set up a body referred to as "The Legal Ombudsman" who will handled consumer complaints about Solicitors and will refer issues relating to the misconduct of solicitors to the frontline regulators (such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority).

The Office of the Legal Service Ombudsman to whom you would currently complain about the handling of your case by the Legal Complaints Service or the Solicitors Regulation Authority is also to close around March 2011. Any complaints about the handling of your case by "The Legal Ombudsman" will be dealt with by in-house with independent assessors etc.

The Office of Legal Complaints/Legal Ombudsman will be based in the Midlands and many staff particularly from London will not be moving over from the Legal Complaints Service.

Concerns have been raised about the integrity of some of the caseworkers and managers who are currently dealing with complaints about Giambrone Law. If you are struggling to get instances of misconduct accepted where you have provided the relevant evidence or a fair level of redress then you can have your file closed and go to the Ombudsman or you may be able to have it reopened at a later date.

You are welcome to contact me for further details if you are suffering problems but will need to forward me your email address as I’m having problems using the PM system.

I know that some members of this forum have been advised to conciliate complaints on the basis that the insurers has refused to pay fees, regardless the Adjudicators decision. I would like to hear from anyone who accepted offers under these circumstances or who has still not had their legal fees paid (apart from obviously those I’m already in touch with). The position is continually changing and fees are now being paid as is compensation for financial effects and interest.

Where you have suffered such a poor level of service to warrant instructing another solicitor or your due diligence has not been carried out properly, these fees should also be claimable as potentially could all fees paid to the Italian Law firm Studio Legale Giambrone or any other law firm you instructed if they transferred your file to Italy without your consent.

Individual caseworkers at the LCS may not be aware of the implications of the transfer of the file on your personal claim for financial effects as the situation is unclear at the moment. I have asked my MP to get an update from the Ministry of Justice and these are grounds for you to ask for your file to be put on hold as you may be entitled to a far higher level of compensation albeit the LCS may want to close the file (awards may reach the maximum available of £15K)

If you want to put your case on hold, please can you send me a PM and I will send you the information you need.

If you do not wish to wait you should be aware that the Legal Complaints Service operate a “Reasonable Offer Made” policy and you should determine in your own mind what constitutes a fair level of redress and state your case as soon as possible. Those who have lost their deposits entirely are likely to receive much higher levels of compensation and be placed in the “extremely serious” category as their distress and inconvenience is much more evident.

You should scour this page for examples that match your own circumstances
http://www.legalcomplaints.org.uk/guida ... ation.page

Please be aware that the LCS have the power to determine whether any offer made by the insurer is reasonable and can close your file if you decline to accept it. In the dying days of the organisation where resources are being “streamlined”, you should be state your case as soon as possible for the level of compensation you feel is fair and go to adjudication if necessary.

You should also read page 25 of the Annual Report 2007-2008 by Legal Service Ombudsman

http://www.olso.org/publications/Annual ... nglish.pdf

Reconsideration Policy

If the adjudication is flawed you are entitled to ask the LCS to apply the Reconsideration Policy if you consider that the decision is “fundamentally wrong”.

This may include where:

Material evidence has been made available to the Society (whether before or after the adjudication which may be subject to reconsideration) that was not provided to the decision maker;
The decision maker has failed to take into account material facts or evidence;
The decision maker has taken into account immaterial facts or evidence;
The decision maker has made a material error of law;
The decision is ultra vires;
The decision is otherwise irrational;
There has been material procedural unfairness.

Further details can be found at http://www.legalcomplaints.org.uk/forms.page
Or
http://www.legalcomplaints.org.uk/docum ... policy.pdf

You are then entitled to appeal to the Legal Services Ombudsman for her to review the handling of your case by the LCS.

http://www.olso.org/

If you are intending to lodge an appeal or complaint about the handling of your case or already have, please can you send me a message as there is some information you need to be aware of.

You have three months from the date your file is closed to lodge a complaint albeit you can write to the Ombudsman and tell her what roughly what issues you are going to raise and ask her to open a file but put it on hold whilst you find out more details from your parliamentary representative

If you do not file within this time period it is unlikely you will be able to in the future.

Legal Issues

Whilst many have all been informed that the LCS cannot deal with legal issues or issues or alleged negligence, this is not true.

The LCS can handle “straight-forward” negligence cases and the LCS’s compensation levels were raised to £15,000 in order to facilitate this. They are set to raise the limit to £30,000 by the Office of Legal Complaints. (Reference can be made to the Annual Report 2007-2008 by Legal Service Ombudsman, page 26)

http://www.olso.org/publications/Annual ... nglish.pdf

As Giambrone Law declared themselves to be specialists in Italian conveyancing law, I would argue that if they advised you to sign a contract on a new build property that did not conform with the requirements of Italian law 122/2005 then this would be a straight-forward case of negligence and depending on your loss it could be argued that you are entitled to seek the full £15K in compensation.

If your property is built but you have lost your terrace, swimming pool, kitchen etc or been forced to pay extra monies for finishing the property because the property plan or building specification was not attached or the details included in the preliminary contract then you can claim for the loss.

Its a very straightforward legal argument in my humble opinion.

You may have to prove that you were entitled to receive the terrace, swimming pool or kitchen and could refer back to the documents Italian Connection or VFI gave you however, it was Giambrone Law’s duty to ask YOU what you had agreed with the promoter, not ask the promoter what they had agreed with you. You are their client not Italian Connection or VFI (albeit Mr Giambrone did confirm that he had taken instructions from Italian Connection).

If they did not ask you to provide details of the agreement you had made with Italian Connection or VFI then I would argue that they were negligent and you can make the claim.

If your bank guarantee was not in place when the money was allegedly transferred then it is arguable that they should pay interest on that money until the date the Vendor received the money and substantial sums of interest have already been paid.

Mr Giambrone has declared that whilst the contracts stated the money was being held in a non-interest bearing account in my case it was actually being held in an interest bearing account and accruing interest. He may well have done the same with yours.

If you are currently in the system you could ask the LCS to obtain a ledger on your account as they currently have an arrangement in place with the legal representatives of Chartis/Giambrone Law (albeit there has been a “Law Society Intervention” and therefore the SRA should have the ledgers and files)

If you are not in the system you could write to the firm and ask for a copy of the ledger and your file if you have disinstructed them or you could write to the Vendor and ask for details of when they received the money.

This money may be available from the SRA Compensation Fund at a later date and could add up to a substantial amount and so if you think you would like to make a claim in the future, you should make the relevant enquiries to obtain this information now.

Misconduct issues

The last time I checked the LCS had only referred 47 instances of suspected misconduct from 212 cases. The LCS have NOT referred all misconduct and the SRA may not be aware of many instances which may have an affect on their case going forward to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in that the “pattern of evidence” for some misconduct issues may not have been built up.

You will have been informed by the LCS if misconduct issues have been referred to the SRA. Depending on what issues were referred will make a difference to whether you will be entitled to make a claim on the SRA Compensation Fund.

You should therefore seek to obtain a copy of your file from the Legal Complaints Service AS SOON AS POSSIBLE as the files are destroyed after a year.

You can do this by emailing the Law Society at informationcompliance@lawsociety.org.uk and making a “Subject Access Request” asking for all information currently held about you by the LCS and the SRA.

You will have to pay a small fee of around £10 for this information.

You are entitled to ask the Legal Complaints Service to refer misconduct issues to the SRA they might have missed, even if your file has been closed.

Due Diligence

As most are aware by now Giambrone Law are not specialists in Italian conveyancing law and have NOT conducted the due diligence properly. Many issues have arisen on many developments in Calabria in relation to the title and the designated use of the land on which some of these developments have been built and the legality of the planning permissions obtained.

When Giambrone Law transferred the client files to Italy, they maintained that the due diligence was held on a “central master file” and the charge to “peruse land registry searches” was in fact to place copies of the relevant documents in your individual file.

Mr Giambrone declared that the due diligence would include:

1. land registry searches
2. due diligence over the Building Company (to check its legal status and its financial position)
3. checking title ownership over the land (not the surrounding areas)
4. checking that the land is not being contested in an inheritance dispute
5. enquiries to the local Municipality to ensure that the land is registered as urban (i.e. for residential development)
6. checking the planning permission
7. checking the absence of pre-emption rights in favor of third parties
8. drafting the preliminary contracts (in Italian and English)
9. executing the preliminary contracts
10. applying for a fiscal code
11. arranging the completion date with an Italian Notary

The files therefore should include at the very least:

The Title Deeds
Land registry searches
A copy of the building project used to obtain the planning permissions and the planning permissions themselves
A report on title
The signed copy of the preliminary contract

The files that have been obtained have not included this information thus far.

I cannot begin to stress the importance of obtaining these documents for your own personal records at this present time and not one, two, ten, fifteen years down the road.

If you have an ongoing case with the LCS, you should ask them to obtain your file and make your caseworker aware that Giambrone Law have previously informed the LCS that this information will be included in the file.

The handover of this information should be included in any attempts at conciliation or adjudication.

If you have instructed another lawyer to act on your behalf, they will be aware of the flaws in the due diligence and would have obtained a copy of the documents from either the vendor or the local Comune in order to advise you to complete. You need to ask them for a copy of these documents as you may need to produce them to the buyer of your property if you ever decide to sell which could be in 15 years time and so the files may have been destroyed or the firm no longer in business.

If you are still a client of Giambrone Law (heaven forbid!), then you should ask them for a copy of the documents or a complete copy of their central master file would be handy : )

If you have completed on your property, you should obtain the final deed of sale with the registration details for your own records from the notary or the lawyer acting on your behalf.

If you have been charged for the “perusal of land registry charges” then you will be able to claim this fee back if you have lodged a complaint with the LCS as any charge made to “peruse” documents should be included in the fee. I consider this charge to be dishonest.

In short, you must fight for and protect your own interests and not rely on anyone else to do it for you because it may not be in their own interests to do so.

The British/Irish and Italian Government

It is imperative at this time if you have suffered financial losses or think you are going to that you contact your local MP or TD and tell them your story explaining the problems that you have had. You should make them aware of the actions of the SRA and inform them that the British Ministry of Justice is fully appraised of the situation. They will make the appropriate representations on your behalf to establish the current position and put you in touch with people who are willing to assist you and thereafter they will monitor the situation on your behalf.

There is also some value in contacting your MEP and the British Consulate in Naples or the Irish Consulate in Rome and advising them of the situation you have found yourself in.

Find your MEP

UK - http://www.europarl.org.uk/section/your-meps/your-meps

Ireland - http://www.europarl.ie/view/en/irish_meps.html

British Consulate - http://ukinitaly.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us ... aly/naples

Irish Consulate - http://www.ambasciata-irlanda.it/home/i ... x?id=29957


Last edited by Lavender on July 6th, 2010, 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: July 6th, 2010, 12:11 am 
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Posts: 124
Location: South London
Lavender,

Thank you for posting this invaluable info. This particular post, like all your others is enlightening and informative to everyone who has been affected by solicitors who have failed their clients.

:) :) :)


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PostPosted: July 6th, 2010, 11:50 am 
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Location: London
Hi Pogson, thank you and wouldn't it be lovely if I had got all the information right, which unfortunately I did not! :oops:

I have edited my original post about the set up of the new complaints handling mechanism. (The system is meant to be getting easier! :lol: )

Staff at the Legal Complaints Service are not yet aware that Ministry of Justice have signed off the powers in the Legal Services Act which brings The Legal Ombudsman into being and no one can advise what will happen in the future at this time as the situation is still very much "up in the air".

http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/


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PostPosted: July 7th, 2010, 5:20 pm 
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Joined: June 4th, 2007, 4:21 pm
Posts: 507
Location: London
I understand that several people are concerned about the actions of CMS Cameron McKenna who are acting on behalf of Giambrone Law/Chartis (AIG)

The Ministry of Justice are aware of some of the issues relating to this firm and these are currently being examined.

If you have encountered any problems, please contact me.


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PostPosted: July 15th, 2010, 11:56 am 
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Joined: July 22nd, 2008, 11:30 pm
Posts: 145
Hi Lavender, Another excellent post.
Please could you tell me how to obtain a copy of all planning permissions for our development and is it possible to get a receipt from the notary for our completion charges. Hoping you can help, thanks Finally


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PostPosted: July 15th, 2010, 3:36 pm 
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All those haveing problems in Calabria,especially the law firm we all know about. Please contact the British consulate in Naples and ask to speak to Michael Burgyone. He is very interested in this topic especially if you feel you are not getting the right advice or help. :P


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PostPosted: July 27th, 2010, 1:58 pm 
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Location: London
finally wrote:
Hi Lavender, Another excellent post.
Please could you tell me how to obtain a copy of all planning permissions for our development and is it possible to get a receipt from the notary for our completion charges. Hoping you can help, thanks Finally

Hi Finally, I know you have gone through the LCS complaints process but dont know if you have got your file which should include all documents in relation to your purchase.

If it does not then I would suggest you put in a Subject Access Request to the Law Society and establish who at CMS Cameron McKenna was dealing with your file on behalf of the insurers/Giambrone. You could then either refer back to the LCS or get your new solicitor to take the issue up with them directly. As it would possibly be a new complaint you could wait until The Legal Ombudsman is fully operating. Ring them now for advice.


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PostPosted: July 30th, 2010, 2:52 pm 
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Posts: 22
Hi Lavender

Thankyou for all your informative posts they have been of great help to me over the last few months.

We became aware in April that our deposit money was lost. It was passed to IC by our solicitor without a bank guarantee and without our knowledge and never made it to the vender BC.

We are currently in the LCS process but then only appear to be chasing compensation for bad service etc. Is there any hope of retreiving our deposit by other means or are we wasting our time.

We have contacted our MP recently and await their reply.


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PostPosted: August 2nd, 2010, 9:58 am 
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Posts: 507
Location: London
CARLM wrote:
Hi Lavender

We became aware in April that our deposit money was lost. It was passed to IC by our solicitor without a bank guarantee and without our knowledge and never made it to the vender BC.

We are currently in the LCS process but then only appear to be chasing compensation for bad service etc. Is there any hope of retreiving our deposit by other means or are we wasting our time.

We have contacted our MP recently and await their reply.


I presume the LCS have raised the complaint to the firm or the insurers about the lost deposit and you have supplied evidence that the money was transferred to Giambrone Law. If the complaint has been raised properly then no you have not wasted your time.

However that said I am aware of some very serious problems at the LCS which include whether complaints have been raised in a proper fashion.

Have you got your file? This should contain the details of the alleged money transfer to Italian Connection. (You should use the LCS to obtain all the other information listed above if it is not included in the file.)

You should keep your MP informed about your situation and send them the relevant complaint correspondence.


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PostPosted: August 2nd, 2010, 7:21 pm 
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Hi Lavender
Thanks for your reply. I do not have my file as yet but after following one of your previous posts I have asked the LCS to obtain it for me. However i do have evidence of the money transfer to G&L and from G&L to IC.

Our worry is that the case worker has recently said that from the compensation fund (max 15k) we should expect only hundreds in compensation rather than thousands and we are very unlikely to to get our full deposit back through the LCS.


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PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 9:04 am 
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Posts: 218
CARLM wrote:
Hi Lavender
Thanks for your reply. I do not have my file as yet but after following one of your previous posts I have asked the LCS to obtain it for me. However i do have evidence of the money transfer to G&L and from G&L to IC.

Our worry is that the case worker has recently said that from the compensation fund (max 15k) we should expect only hundreds in compensation rather than thousands and we are very unlikely to to get our full deposit back through the LCS.


Do not accept the payment from LCS even thoufgh they say it is fair and unlikely to increase. You will get a far better settlement from the company acting for the G&L Insurer, plus the payment from the Insurer is WOP so you can still pursue the full amount at a later stage.


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PostPosted: August 5th, 2010, 6:09 pm 
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Posts: 10
Hi there

Can anyone confirm if they have been successfuly in making a claim to the LCS in regard to their Purchase in JOTS through G&L.

We paid our deposit on JOTS in Feb 2007 and are still using G&L at present.
We have not yet moved solicitors as we were waiting to see if planning was finally secured (Which it is ) & finally if building does actually restart in Sept before throwing any more money away.

We're not familiar with the LCS process but can anyone advise if we can make a case to the LCS in advance of disinstructing G&L on the following grounds as we do intend to move solicitors.

Seriously flawed contracts not in buyers interest
Due diligence not completed correctly
Delay in Build
Poor Service level

Any assistance would be much appreciated.

Regards


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PostPosted: August 6th, 2010, 11:44 am 
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Location: London
CARLM wrote:
Hi Lavender
Our worry is that the case worker has recently said that from the compensation fund (max 15k) we should expect only hundreds in compensation rather than thousands and we are very unlikely to to get our full deposit back through the LCS.


Hi Carl,

The Compensation Fund is maintained by the SRA and is completely separate to any compensation you might receive from the LCS, who have awarded thousands in the past.

http://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problem ... ation.page

The LCS will be desperately trying to close down cases before the organisation closes, take Howard's advice and dont be bullied or coerced.

For those who have not yet filed a complaint, if you have time, wait until The Legal Ombudsman comes into force on 6th October.

http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/


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PostPosted: August 20th, 2010, 12:37 pm 
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hi lavander - would like to send you a PM but have no idea how to do this, can you give me instructions or can anyone else help. thanks.
your infomation on the LCS is extremely helpful.


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PostPosted: August 20th, 2010, 1:44 pm 
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Posts: 507
Location: London
Hi Deify, if you go to any post I have made, you will see an option to PM. (I have sent you a PM as mine are now working)


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PostPosted: August 25th, 2010, 1:52 pm 
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Posts: 507
Location: London
Updated News

"From 6 October 2010 anyone with a complaint about a lawyer in England and Wales should go to the new Legal Ombudsman.

The new Legal Ombudsman’s website will tell you all you need to know about making a complaint. From 6 October, when the Legal Ombudsman opens, you can also ring their helpline on 0300 500 0333. Calls will be charged at a local rate.

The Legal Ombudsman is a totally independent service for handling legal complaints. No service complaints will be passed from existing complaints handling bodies to the new Legal Ombudsman
."

http://www.legalcomplaints.org.uk/about-us/OLC.page

However I understand that the situation is different if your complaint is currently on hold or you would like to reopen your case. Any Giambrone client currently in the system should contact the Legal Ombudsman to clarify and put your case on hold or leave it on hold until the Legal Ombudsman opens.

http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/


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PostPosted: September 2nd, 2010, 9:26 am 
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A really interesting article by Adam Sampson - the new Legal Ombudsman . . .

http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/features/ne ... -interview


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PostPosted: September 10th, 2010, 8:02 am 
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Posts: 507
Location: London
And an interesting response by the Chairman of the Board of the Legal Complaints Service, Professor Shamit Saggar

http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/opinion/let ... ts-service


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PostPosted: October 8th, 2010, 5:54 am 
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Location: London
The Legal Ombudsman is now fully operational. They can be contacted by telephone on 0300 555 0333 (8.30 to 5.30) or by email at enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk

You can view their guides on making a complaint on http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/aboutu ... tions.html

If you instructed Giambrone & Law in the UK and your file was transferred without your consent to a firm in Italy, you may still be able to make a claim for compensation and a refund of fees particularly if your original terms of the instruction included representing you "up to completion".

If you did not directly instruct the firm in Italy and have since been billed for services (already paid to Giambrone & Law) and are receiving very threatening letters then give the Legal Ombudsman a call to find out whether they can help you.

You may need to refer to them to the SRA decisions on this link
http://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/solicit ... 65.article

I would strongly suggest that if you are informed that your complaint will be accepted that you ask for a caseworker who was not previously employed by the Legal Complaints Service.

If your complaint is accepted and when your caseworker is allocated, you should inform them that an allegation has been made that CMS Cameron Mckenna, the solicitor acting for both Giambrone Law and the Insurer (Chartis) have made false representations on behalf of their client to the Legal Complaints Service in response to complaints made and that the Legal Complaints Service are aware of this.

At this time I do not consider that any information provided by CMS Cameron Mckenna can be relied upon and you should ask your caseworker what steps can be taken to ensure that the firm answer complaints truthfully.

If you do have a complaint accepted, please can you post your experiences for the benefit of others who might wish to do the same.

Lavender!


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PostPosted: February 13th, 2011, 11:54 am 
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Location: London
I understand that the Legal Ombudsman received a flood of calls recently in relation Giambrone Law, to the extent that the switchboard could not cope and had to transfer the calls directly to caseworkers.

If you have a complaint accepted, please can you post your experiences for the benefit of others who might wish to do the same.


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