When the solicitor’s pen is mightier than the sword…

We have probably all been involved in a dispute at some time in our lives, whether an argument with a neighbour or a disagreement with a service provider who has let us down.

Disputes can be overwhelmingly stressful, particularly if the dispute does not resolve quickly, or as the complainant, we feel that our concerns are not taken seriously.

What starts as a small disagreement can often mushroom into an overwhelming battle, causing untold personal stress and anxiety. We have all experienced the frustration of our complaints falling on deaf ears as we are passed from pillar to post, having phoned somewhere ironically called a ‘Helpline’.

Based on personal experience, there is nothing more frustrating than feeling that you fighting a large faceless corporation which no longer treats you as a valued customer but rather as someone whose concerns are insignificant.

The power of a solicitor’s letter

As a solicitor specialising in dispute resolution, clients frequently tell me that they feel they need the services of a solicitor to ‘fight their corner’ or give them ‘a voice’ which will be heard. I am frequently informed by clients that ‘It is a matter of principle now. Can you just send them a letter….they won’t ignore a letter from a solicitor’.

Sadly, it is a reality that a solicitors’ letter carries more weight. Some years ago, a client approached me feeling completely exasperated by a well know high street organisation. He had a legitimate complaint and had been offered £100 by this service provider as a ‘gesture of goodwill’.

He came to my office for a chat about whether he should accept this token gesture. The offer was derisory, but for him it was not about the monetary compensation offered, but about how he had been treated.  He simply wanted a letter sent on his behalf to make them listen to him properly as a ‘matter of principle’. A solicitor’s letter was able to secure compensation of several hundreds of pounds, but more importantly, it secured an unreserved apology which, to him, was the greatest prize of all.


The dilemma facing most clients is that instructing a solicitor who charges an hourly rate to write a letter can be costly. With the fear of costs spiralling out of control, many simply conclude that they ‘cannot afford to fight on a matter of principle’.

It is also often the case that those in our community who are vulnerable or feel unable to make their voice heard are also without the means to meet these costs.

At FM&C solicitors, in recognition that ‘matters of principle’ are important and that having ‘a voice’ brings peace of mind, we offer a fixed and affordably priced ‘letter of principle’ service to represent your views yet avoid costly litigation.

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Kerry Wigg is a partner at FM&C specialising in Employment Law. She may be contacted on +44 (0)7454 866 133 or +44 (0)1440 761 200.

Email: kerry.wigg@fmc-solicitors.com

Where there is a Will…

Contested Wills

Dealing with disputes over family finances or inheritance can be stressful and emotional. No one wants to be in a position of having to fight family members or friends after the death of a loved one. However, there can be genuine reasons for a dispute and Wills can be contested for any number of reasons:

  • If a Will has been improperly completed or executed
  • The testator lacked mental capacity to make a Will
  • Undue influence was brought to bear on the Testator to organise a Will or organise their affairs in a particular manner
  • There is possible evidence of forgery
  • A promise has been made by the Testator prior to their death which has not been reflected in their Will
  • Disputes arising over the interpretation of a poorly drafted Will

If you believe that you have a dispute over a Will the key is to act fast, preferably before the Grant of Probate is obtained which enables the Executor to distribute the Estate.

If you are disputing a Will, you can lodge a caveat which will temporarily prevent any grant of probate issuing, to afford time to investigate and pursue any remedy.

Excluded from a will?

If you believe you have been unreasonably excluded from a Will, and satisfy a prescribed category of persons entitled to claim, you may be able to apply for reasonable provision from the deceased estate. These applications do however need to be made within six months of the first Grant of Probate.

What are your courses of action?

Sometimes litigation may be the only course of action, but it can slow down receipt of Inheritance and can be costly. Before embarking on litigation, we would always recommend exploring other options for resolving any dispute.

Quite often the disagreements which arise are less about money and more about wounded feelings and deep seated animosity between fractured family members. Mediated dispute resolution can often offer a solution.

Whatever the cause, disagreements with family members at what is already a stressful time usually requires sensitivity aimed at preserving relationships, whilst acting in your best interests.


Kerry - adjusted (640x427)

Kerry Wigg is a partner and disputes specialist at FM&C Solicitors. She may be contacted on +44 (0)7454 866 133 or +44(0)1799 526 849.

Email: kerry.wigg@fmc-solicitors.com