Most issues that arise can be resolved amicably and informally, however, we appreciate that there will be times when an informal approach is not appropriate and a formal complaint is made by our clients. We take all complaints seriously. We will try to handle those issues sensitively and proactively and we have highlighted our complaint policy here.
If you are a client and still wish to complain, please read the following guidance which will help you to understand how we will deal with complaints.
What is a Client Complaint?
If a client complains because it has taken half an hour to return his/her call, that may not amount to a valid complaint. If a client says that we continually delay in returning calls, or that we are not returning calls at all, that is a complaint. We call these “formal complaints” and we treat them all in the same way.
A formal complaint must be expressed in writing setting out the complaint in as much detail as possible and can be e-mailed to any director or to our email address: email@example.com.
Clients are also notified in our terms of business letters of their right to complain. If they do, they are to be immediately advised by the Fee Earner that the matter will be considered by The Directors. If the matter concerns The Directors then the client will be advised that the Supervisor will investigate. We have eight weeks to investigate a complaint and get back to you, however, we will strive to complete the investigation as soon as possible. Within 5 working days of receiving the complaint we will acknowledge it and give a realistic timescale of when we expect to complete our investigation.
How the Complaint Will Be Dealt With
The Directors will look at your file and ask for full details from you and the Fee Earner who has conduct of the case. The whole object is to ensure that you, as our client:
- · is satisfied that the complaint has been dealt with seriously
- · receives a prompt response
- · is given an assurance that the matter is under review
- · is notified as soon as possible of the outcome.
Any outcome will be recorded on your client file and a copy kept. You will be notified of the outcome and the results of our investigation in writing.
Remedies Open To You
- an apology
- if appropriate, a reduction in the bill
- if appropriate, abatement of the bill in total
- notification to the client of their right to consult another Solicitor and obtain advice as to whether we have been negligent
- if appropriate disciplinary action against the fee earner concerned.
If your complaint cannot be resolved satisfactorily, then you have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, whose details are provided in our letter of engagement to you.
Post Complaint Procedure
In some circumstances, the Solicitor/client relationship will have broken down completely, it may be better for another Fee Earner to take the file over. If the fee earner does continue with the client, then every effort will be made to repair any damage to the relationship we have with you, but if that cannot be done, then the file can be re-allocated to another caseworker.
If you are still not satisfied and want to pursue the matter to the Legal Ombudsman, then we will deal with you courteously and professionally and deal with the Legal Ombudsman’s office in a timely manner.
The client, in a legally aided case, can ask for the case to be transferred to another provider. Whether the transfer takes place or not will be a matter for the Judge. It should be noted that in those circumstances we can provide comment on your case to assist the Judge.
Fee Earners and others about whom a substantiated complaint is made can expect some form of corrective action to be taken. This may be an informal word from The Directors or could at worst result in formal disciplinary action.
The Directors can also consider whether to make recommendations for changes in procedures or whether training needs of the staff member should be addressed.
The Directors will take on board any feedback you provide on the complaints procedure and may decide to update this policy.