I recently sold a flat and was asked by the buyer to put an indemnity policy in place as the completion certificate could not be located. My solicitor quoted me a price to this and asked if I would agree to it. I said yes, the sale has now gone through and we exchanged and completed a few weeks ago.

My solicitor has today come back to me saying that they sent me the wrong price and the indemnity policy will in fact be 115 pounds more than initially stated and asking me to send them the difference.

Given that I agreed to this policy based on a given cost, am I liable for this cost or is it reasonable for me to refuse to pay it; I feel that given the additional amount I might has wanted to 'shop around' independently for a better quote had I been given the correct information at the time, and now I'm being penalised for a mistake on the part of my solicitor.

  • I presume you sold the house, didn't buy it. – user6726 Feb 20 at 20:05
  • Yes, thanks. Corrected – user1111284 Feb 22 at 17:02

This is between you and your solicitor, so the question is, will he sue you if you refuse to pay (and will he win that suit). A good place to look is the agreement which you have with the solicitor, where you promise (or don't promise) to pay certain costs. There could be a clause which addresses your question, saying that the client is responsible for actual costs of third party services secured by the solicitor on client's behalf. Even if there is no such clause, a reasonable person would interpret the situation so that the client is responsible for paying the insurance premium in such a case. Your argument would have to be that you would not have agreed to select Brand X rather than Brand Y in light of the difference in cost. This assumes that there is a competing policy that is functionally the same (or better) but cheaper. You also have to show that if you had known the correct price, you would have instructed the solicitor to do something else -- refuse to provide the policy? keep shopping?

I understand that when you're paying someone else to pay attention to these details that it is irksome when they don't pay attention to the details (you might at least ask for an explanation of why he gave you the wrong price), but an innocent error does not entitle you to a bit of enrichment at the solicitor's expense. If there is something about the matter that constitutes professional incompetence, then the story would be different. In general, one can always claim "If I had but known, I would not have ..." but I (putting myself in the place of a juror evaluating your estoppel claim) am not persuaded that you would have acted differently. 115 pounds is not a shocking difference in price, and since the price of these policies is not easy to get from casual investigation (you can't Google it), if you had been given the correct price initially, you still would have paid that price (rather than let the sale go down the tube). So I think it would be very difficult for you to make the case that you are not liable for the difference in price.

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