Any expression of dissatisfaction with service is a complaint. Clients may raise complaints by any reasonable means. Clients are asked to firstly raise a complaint with the person dealing with their matter. If a complaint is not resolved by the member of staff concerned it must be referred to the Clients Complaints Officer (CCO) – currently Simon Leyland, and the client will be asked to then confirm the details of the complaint in writing via post or email to the CCO.
Upon receipt of a written client complaint the CCO will: –
1. Record that complaint in the Central Register noting the client name, branch, the person dealing with their matter, matter number, nature of complaint and the date opened.
2. Send an acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint to the client within 5 working days of receipt of the complaint. This acknowledgement of receipt to the client will include a copy of this procedure so that the client is aware of its contents and has the contact details of the Legal Ombudsman should they be required.
3. Contact the person in day to day charge of the matter requesting a fully detailed response to the complaint within 5 working days.
4. Personally investigate the matter, including speaking with the person who has day to day conduct of the matter, using the Case Management System, and/or considering the paper file as may be appropriate to the particular complaint. The CCO may lack the expert knowledge to investigate complaints outside types of work which he or she currently practices in. In such cases he or she may refer the complaint to the relevant Team Leader or Director responsible for that Team, for investigation. In all other respects that investigation will be carried out by the Team Leader or Director responsible in accordance with this procedure. The Team Leader or Director responsible will keep the CCO advised of the progress of the complaint and, in particular, will advise the CCO of the outcome and any procedural changes or training which may be required.
5. Provide the client with a full written response within 20 working days from receipt of the original complaint (from either the CCO or person investigating the complaint).
If there is any good reason why any timescale cannot be met the CCO or person investigating the complaint will advise the client accordingly as soon as possible.
In investigating the complaint, the CCO or person investigating will: –
- Do so fully and fairly.
- Apologise where it is appropriate to do so.
- Use his best endeavours to provide an outcome which either resolves the complaint or satisfies the client.
- Make any compensatory offer which he may feel appropriate.
- Where appropriate agree with the client a plan to take the matter forward.
- Advise the client when it may be appropriate to seek independent legal advice.
- Advise the Indemnity Insurance Manager if any possible negligence issue arises.(CCO only)
If you remain dissatisfied at the end of our complaints process, you would then be at liberty to contact the Legal Ombudsman, provided you are an individual, a personal representative of a deceased person, a “micro-enterprise” (having fewer than 10 employees and annual turnover or assets not exceeding two million Euros), a charity or club/association with annual income of less than £1 million, or a trustee of a trust with assets of less than £1 million. The Legal Ombudsman can investigate complaints up to six years from the date of the problem happening or within three years of when someone should have found out about the problem. However, if we send a final written response to your complaint within eight weeks of receiving it, the time limit for you to refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman would be six months from the date of the final response.
If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman, their contact details are as follows:
Telephone: 0300 555 0333 between 8.30am and 5.30pm (calls to 03 numbers will cost no more than calls to national geographic numbers (starting 01 or 02) from both mobiles and landlines. Calls are recorded and may be used for training and monitoring purposes.
Postal address: Legal Ombudsman, P O Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ.
Alternative complaints resolution bodies also exist and are competent to deal with complaints about legal services, should both you and our firm wish to use such a scheme at the end of our internal complaints process. They provide Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services. Small Claims Mediation is one such body, details of which can be found at www.small-claims-mediation.co.uk; and another is Ombudsman Services, details of which can be found at www.ombudsman-services.org. Under the provisions of the EU Directive on Consumer Alternative Dispute Resolution, to pursue this process you would have to be a “consumer”, namely an individual acting for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside your trade, business, craft or profession.
Note that the Legal Ombudsman cannot deal with a complaint about a bill if the client has applied to the Court for assessment of that bill.
Complaints to the SRA
If there is a professional issue which we have not resolved with you via your complaint, and you feel your complaint is about our behaviour, then you can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority. For further details, please visit the SRA’s website: http://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor.page