As a firm we are committed to providing a quality legal service to all our clients. Consequently, it is essential when something goes wrong or any client believes they have reason to complain that we have an effective procedure to assist the complete and early resolution of the problem. Only by doing so can we hope to maintain the quality standards we set ourselves and improve them by learning from what may have gone wrong and what our clients tell us.
A documented review of this policy and the process which it documents will take place annually to verify its effective operation across the Firm.
What is a complaint?
A complaint is a report by a client that their expectations of what they consider to be a good service from us have not been met.
A complaint can also be made by a prospective client if we have:
Unreasonably refused a service to a complainant; or
Persistently or unreasonably offered a service that the complainant does not want.
Making a complaint
You can raise a complaint with any of the following:
The person dealing with your matter.
- The Client-Service Partner for the Office dealing with your matter, whose name is stated in the Client Care Letter sent to you on commencement of your instructions or is available on request from that office or the Senior Partner.
- The Firm’s Senior Partner, who is Mr Philip Astles and who works from the firm’s Slough office 392 Edinburgh Avenue, Slough Trading Estate, Slough, Berk. Tel: 01753 532541, fax 01753 820501 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you raise the complaint with the person dealing with your matter, they will aim to resolve the complaint informally with you to your satisfaction. If not, then either they or you may refer the matter to the Office Client-Service Partner or direct to the Senior Partner.
While the Senior Partner will retain overall responsibility for the handling of your complaint, the steps set out at 1. to 7. below will be undertaken by the Office Client-Service Partner, to whom the Senior Partner will send the details of your complaint, and who will accept the initial responsibility for dealing with your complaint. If your complaint is against the Office Client-Service Partner himself, the Senior Partner will undertake the steps which would normally be undertaken by the Office Client-Service Partner.
This procedure will also apply to prospective clients to whom we have refused to provide a service or persistently or unreasonably offered an unwanted service, but only if the complainant has evidence to show that we did not have reasonable grounds to do so.
What will happen next?
- Within 7 days we will acknowledge receipt of your complaint, set out our understanding of it and request your confirmation or seek any necessary clarification. We will also confirm, at that stage, who will be dealing with your complaint.
- The complaint will be registered in our Central Register (for monitoring and management information purposes) and a separate file opened.
- Within 7 days we will acknowledge receipt of your confirmation letter or telephone call and confirm what will happen next.
- We will then commence investigating your complaint. This may involve one or more of the following steps:
- the person who dealt with your matter will be asked to provide a response to your complaint.
- the response will then be examined together with the file and your complaint and, if necessary, further information will be sought from the person who dealt with your matter.
- You will then be invited to meet the Office Client-Service Partner to discuss and hopefully resolve your complaint.
- If a meeting is declined or is for some reason impractical, we will write to you with a detailed response to your complaint and with any suggestions we have for resolving it to our mutual satisfaction. If it appears to us that the complaint was justified, then we will apologise and offer you suitable recompense. We will ask you to reply to let us know if you are satisfied with this offer.
- If a meeting between us takes place we will still write to you to confirm what took place and any agreed solution that was arrived at.
- The meeting or written response will normally take place within 14 days of our receipt of your initial complaint. If we need more time to investigate, we will tell you how much longer it will take.
- If, at a meeting or from your written reply to our detailed written response, you remain dissatisfied with what we said and how we propose resolving your complaint we will arrange for our decision to be reviewed. This may happen in one of the following ways:
- by the Office Client-Service Partner reviewing his own handling of your complaint and why you are dissatisfied with his decision; or
- by arranging for someone else or a small number of people in the firm who are entirely unconnected with the complaint to review the complaint, the response, the file and any other relevant information, how the complaint was handled and the decision on it; or
- The Senior Partner may review the complaint by taking the steps set out in the previous bullet point; or
- by inviting you to agree to a process of formal mediation through an independent mediator (if this is available).
- The review will take place within 14 days of your requesting it. After the review has taken place you will be informed of the outcome. This will review our initial handling of your complaint and our decision on it. If the outcome of the review is an invitation to mediation, this will take some further time, as determined by the mediator.
- If you still remain dissatisfied with how your complaint has been handled and the decision on it, we will write to you within 7 days of your telling us this. We will then confirm our final position on your complaint and explain why we consider our handling of, and decision on, it (and of any review) was reasonable.
- At this stage you may take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman is the independent body established by the Legal Services Act 2007 as an independent and impartial organisation to deal with complaints against solicitors. The Legal Ombudsman may:
- Investigate the quality of professional service supplied by a solicitor to a client;
- Investigate allegations that a solicitor has breached rules of professional conduct;
- Investigate allegations that a solicitor has unreasonably refused to supply a professional service to a prospective client;
- Investigate allegations that a solicitor has persistently or unreasonably offered a professional service that the client does not want.
Before it will consider a complaint the Legal Ombudsman generally requires that the firm’s internal Complaints Procedure has been exhausted. If the Legal Ombudsman decides that the firm’s proposals for resolving a complaint are reasonable, it may decline to investigate further.
The Legal Ombudsman’s address is PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ; telephone 0300 555 0333; website www.legalombudsman.org.uk; or email email@example.com.
Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving our written confirmation of our final position on your complaint and within 6 years from the date of the act or omission giving rise to the complaint (or if the act or omission was more than 6 years ago, then within 3 years from the date you should reasonably have known there are grounds for complaint).
We aim to resolve complaints by the above procedure as expeditiously as is reasonably possible, and hopefully at an early stage in the procedure.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority
The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help you if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
You can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.