Tuesday, 15 July 2008

All I wanted was a divorce....

......but because my solicitor, Ron Thomas of R T Law solicitors, Kings Norton, was incompetent I ended up in debt and with a court order to sell my home - but the one thing I didn't get from the horrendous R T Law experience, which cost £14,000 and took 2 years, was the divorce itself!!

In 2005, having successfully fought the NHS for 16 months to secure a life saving operation for my husband, I sought a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour after my husband subjected me to domestic violence despite my efforts to save his life after he was diagnosed inoperable and terminally ill by a knighted professor in 2003. He was given 1-2 years to live. link

Having endured years of domestic violence and being diagnosed as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, my solicitor took the opportunity to ridicule me, insult me and, ultimately, bleed me dry. The way he did this was to not admit that my case was too complicated for him or to suggest I find a more competent solicitor but, instead, he plodded on not having a clue what he was doing with the financial aspects of the case. The proof of this is that despite many court hearings, he eventually failed to submit my complete financial evidence into Court so that the Judge could see that my former husband was, in fact, stealing from my bank accounts. All that was required was proof of the destination of the fraudulent transactions - something a competent solicitor should have known would be required.

Throughout the duration of my divorce case Ron Thomas told me that I was entitled to 50% share of the marital assets because of my contribution towards the marriage. I had renovated one of the marital homes and saved my husband from impending death. My former husband has survived his 'inoperable condition' for 4 years now. Once he recovered from his life-saving operation he emptied the bank accounts and left. Mr Thomas told me he'd had many years' experience of domestic violence but said that my abusive husband was a "pussycat" because "his violence wasn't on the worst end of the scale". By that, I assume because he didn't manage to kill me, despite his efforts to do so.

I wrote a book about my experience with the NHS and Ron Thomas described it as "diatribe" even though he said he'd never read it. The book was written with the help of 2 professional authors/editors and to insult me is to insult them.

How many books have you written Mr Thomas?

How many lives have you saved Mr Thomas?

None? So what gives you the right to ridicule everything I've ever achieved when I was paying you to help me get divorced which is the one thing I didn't get?

Ron Thomas told me the divorce would cost me in the region of £1,000 and would take around 6 months to complete. In fact it cost £14,000 and took 2 years. The end result was that his professional negligence cost me my home and my future financial security because my settlement was reduced by around £20,000.

I attended the Final Court Hearing with a domestic violence officer from the local police station. In fact, I was lucky to have made it to Court on time in the first place since Ron Thomas's letter didn't arrive until 15 minutes after I was supposed to be there. Ron Thomas didn't bother to attend at all, instead choosing to send his daughter to take notes. Had he bothered to attend, it would have been apparent that vital financial evidence was missing and he could have asked for an adjournment.

My Barrister, Matthew Haynes of St Ive's Chambers in Birmingham, actually sent my husband home to get some more of his financial evidence but, of course, he wasn't going to produce anything that would benefit me and told the Court he had disposed of it. In any event, it should have been me who was asked to produced that evidence. My solicitor, and my Barrister, should have known that evidence would be required and they should have ensured it was all present and correct for the Final Court Hearing. Both Mr Haynes and Mr Thomas got paid in full for not doing their job, which cost me my home.

The Judge summed up that I was a 'provoker of violence', having ended up in hospital after winning a game of Scrabble and despite me having hospital and doctor's records and police incident reports which proved I was the one on the receiving end of domestic violence and my husband had no evidence whatsoever of violence from me. The Judge concluded that I was dishonest with my finances, thanks to the incompetence of my solicitor - I had given my solicitor every shred of financial evidence I was asked for, except the evidence he failed to ask me for - the very evidence that was required in Court. My husband's barrister referred to me as a "gold digger", despite my money having been used to renovate the marital home and that my husband stole from me. The Judge ordered that I transfer one house to my husband in its entirety and that the house I was living in was to be sold so that my husband could live debt free. I might add at this point that my husband had claimed to be a lawyer himself (which turned out to be a big fat lie).

The Court Hearing was a humiliating and traumatic experience that should not have happened had the necessary evidence been produced. I had also been told there would be a 2 hour pre-trial conference with my barrister, to discuss the contents of the Trial Bundle, but that never happened either. Because I hadn't been allowed to see the Trial Bundle, even though my husband had seen it, I had no idea what was in there or where to look when being questioned.

At the end, the Judge told my husband that he hoped he was now well and that he would enjoy a prolonged life. How nice that the Judge gave my husband a pat on the back for his crimes whilst clearly punishing me. The Judge said, "You do not deserve any special consideration for your part in saving your husbands' life."

To literally add insult to injury, Mr Thomas's daughter's parting shot to me was "next time find yourself a rich husband".

I wrote a very serious and lengthy 17 page letter of complaint to R T Law Solicitors (after this email) and Ron Thomas's response was full of lies and avoidance, in fact he turned it all around and blamed me. I then involved the Law Society who dismissed the complaint but the Law Ombudsman ordered that they
re-investigate. The Law Society, after almost a year of investigation, decided they could only act on poor service and not professional negligence. The Law Ombudsman, having found 52 complaints in my letter, suggested I sue Ron Thomas for Professional Negligence but as I am in debt I could not afford to take further legal action - even if I could find a solicitor who would sue another solicitor as they all seem to close ranks and protect each other.

There was also another problem in that Ron Thomas refused to release my file to me, even after I'd paid his final bill. This prevented me from going ahead with an Appeal so that I could submit the necessary evidence into Court in the hope that the Judge would amend the Court Order and award me the correct settlement. I had to involve the Law Society with that issue and Ron Thomas said he was (conveniently) unaware that it was his duty to release my file. He eventually agreed to its release provided I paid for the copying service, but the Law Society pointed out to him that the cost was actually his responsibility.

The only aspect of my complaint the Law Society upheld was poor service regarding my divorce papers, which kept being returned from the Court for
amendment, and then refusal 5 months after the Final Court Hearing. Ron Thomas was ordered to refund my court fees for that. I had also given the Law Society a copy of a document that had been submitted into Court where Mr Thomas had forged my signature - the response of Ian Roberts of the Law Society? "I'm not a handwriting expert".

At the end of all the Court Hearings, two years later, I was still not even divorced and, in desperation, had to enlist the help of my husband's new solicitor who took over from Ravi Gakhal of Challinors Solicitors who by then was a bit busy using the Legal System, and lobbying Gordon Brown, to help free her father who was being held in an Indian prison on firearms and explosives charges.

So, now this website exists to expose Mr Thomas for the lying, incompetent and unprofessional person that he is because there is no complaints procedure against Firms like this and the Law Society (whose Chief Executive is Common Purpose trained Janet Paraskeva) in my opinion, simply protects negligent solicitors.

Mr Thomas, you had your chance to put things right but chose, instead, to lie and use the Law to your own advantage. I wasn't able to benefit from the Law to seek justice for domestic violence, theft, or your professional negligence. In my opinion you used my already fragile, exhausted and emotionally battered state of health as a smokescreen to hide your inability to comprehend the complexity of my case and your obvious incompetence to ensure everything was present and correct for the Final Court Hearing, which cost me my home and, consequently, my livelihood.

Thing is, Mr Thomas, when I feel something isn't right I have the determination to see things through to a satisfactory conclusion - whether it's a life saving operation after a deliberate misdiagnosis, or a book that was written from personal experience to raise awareness of this criminal activity - you name it and I will campaign for the truth and justice. Those things were actually a lot more difficult for me to achieve, as a driving instructor, than successfully completing a divorce should have been for you which, after all, is supposed to be your profession.