There are always two sides to a story and I’ve found, over the years, that the clients that complain the most normally have the most to hide. I’ve had two particularly interesting stories in the last two weeks, one being a client who complained that his case is taking far too long to handle and has been going on for years and threatened to contact the media if I did not give him a good enough explanation timeously. A quick dig into the file revealed that the matter had been postponed on the previous occasion because none of our medical experts were prepared to consult with the client about his possible future loss of income claim, while he continued serving out his jail sentence for fraud in prison.
A few days later I got a journalist from a tabloid newspaper calling me about a client who is unhappy about a R70 000,00 award that she got for soft tissue injuries of her lower back feeling that she could never work again, and that we did not adequately settle her claim and nor that the matter ever went to court. The reporter did not seem to understand the very fact that he had a court order in his hands which was proof that she had been to court and somewhat surprisingly the advocates and attorneys who had been with her at court, all remembered the occasion quite well – probably because the case fell apart when her “retrenchment” due to the soft tissue injuries of her lower back was discovered to have taken place some 4 years after the accident and worse, she was in fact fired for stealing!
The one thing I have learned is that the people that invariably terminate your mandate to go to another attorney, or do threaten you, are normally the clients who have been dishonest in the handling of their case or have some extreme discomfort with some of the tough questions you have to ask them about certain aspects of their story. I was quite relieved approximately a year ago when a Pretoria attorney released me of a case of a client, who had alleged that his son was brain damaged and could not work and who my specialist had suggested was malingering, was taken off my hands and comprehensive undertakings given to me by the other attorney. The defendant attorney subsequently revealed to us that they had devastating evidence along similar lines, in fact worse than what we had already uncovered, and the settlement that they did get in the end barely just covered my fees. I got paid, and I think the other attorney, who I warned of the potential problems in the case, but thought I was trying to put him off the case and ignored me, probably learned a very valuable lesson in doing considerable amounts of work to basically earn nothing.