You are receiving this as you have expressed a concern about our service. The resolution of complaints is very important to us. We always want to receive feedback about our service, whether good or bad as only by knowing what we do well and not so well can we strive to continually improve our service. This document sets out what you can expect from us when handling an expression of dissatisfaction or a formal complaint.
As required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, we have a procedure for dealing with expressions of dissatisfaction and complaints from clients. Our aim at the outset will always be to try and resolve matters amicably and where we find ourselves wanting to apologise, cascade information about the complaint and what we have learnt from it and where the error, omission or service has caused serious distress or inconvenience make appropriate and reasonable amends.
What we may not be able to do is resolve any issue of complaint that involves a formal complaint of negligence. Where that happens, unless we are able to resolve the difficulty openly and with your consent we would normally ask you to consult alternative solicitors to obtain advice.
How do we define a Complaint?
Complaints may be categorised as minor (eg. persistent non-return of telephone calls, minor repetitive typing errors in external documents, all without serious consequence), moderate (eg. missing important deadlines or making persistent errors in documents concerning material facts) or serious (eg rudeness to a client, dishonesty to a client).
“First Tier” level complaints.
The first-tier level is the first line of response to a client expression of dissatisfaction. It covers most levels of complaint that could reasonably be expected to be resolved between a solicitor or case worker and the client direct.
Although the complaint may have been made to the Complaint’s Manager, Rosie Bracher (or Ramin Shamsolahi for complaints in relation to Rosie Bracher), all complaints will in the first instance be dealt with by the Office Manager. The Office Manager will co-ordinate and where necessary refer the matter back to the solicitor/ case worker to engage with the client and seek an informal and amicable way forward. The Complaints Manager (Rosie Bracher) will informally monitor.
If the matter cannot be resolved (by a discussion of the issues and immediate response orally, in writing or agreed remedy) the matter will become a formal complaint.
We would usually expect minor complaints to be resolved using this process and most moderate complaints. This process may be suitable for some more serious complaints depending on the circumstances.
Where there are issues or complaints which either have not been resolved informally as above or where the issue bypasses the First Tier stage either due to the severity of the issue or agreement between the client and Complaint’s manager:
1. such a complaint will be acknowledged within 72 hours;
2. The client will receive a copy of this procedure and an explanation of what will now happen;
3. Rosie Bracher will usually then consider the file, or nominate a solicitor or supervisor to do so, and ask for full or further details from the client (if necessary) either in writing or by interview led initially by the Office Manager. Where applicable the advisor will also be seen;
4. The client will receive a full response ideally within 21 days, or a letter explaining the delay and the likely additional time required. In a complex matter up to 8 weeks (56 days) to respond to a full investigation may be appropriate.
The object of the complaint’s process is to endeavour to ensure that the client:
a. is satisfied that the complaint has been dealt with professionally, impartially and seriously;
b. gets a prompt response (where possible within 21 days (28 days where there are involved staff on vacation) with a long stop of 56 days);
c. has an assurance that the matter is being reviewed;
d. is notified as soon as possible of the outcome;
e. receives due acknowledgment of any difficulties, service failings or upheld complaints and where the service is found wanting an appropriate remedy.
Remedies which we might consider if a complaint is upheld in full or in part
a. An apology from the firm and an assurance that it will not happen again, that training or feedback will occur and an assurance that we will try to do better;
b. A reduction in the bill;
c. Abatement of the bill in total;
d. Notification to the client of their right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, either in relation to a matter of professional conduct, or the firm’s inadequate professional services;
e. Notification to the client of their right to see another solicitor and obtain independent advice.
Charges for investigation and reporting in relation to complaints
We do not charge clients for the investigation of complaints.
The Legal Ombudsman
If after we have responded to your complaint in full you are still not happy you have a right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman. Any complaint to the Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of a final response from us about your complaint.
Your complaint should also be brought to the Legal Ombudsman within 6 years of when the problem occurred (or within 3 years of the date when you first became aware of the problem if more than 6 years have passed by that time).
The Legal Ombudsman can extend the time limit but only in exceptional circumstances”. The Legal Ombudsman will endeavour to deal with all complaints within 3 months of receipt of the complaint.
You can view information about complaints to the Legal Ombudsman on www.legalombudsman.org.uk Telephone 0300 555 0333 opening hours 8.30am to 5.30pm Mon-Fri or email them at - firstname.lastname@example.org
Most complaints will be dealt with by the Ombudsman but some are referable to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (“SRA”).
- Any breach of the SRA’s principles https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/who-we-are/sra-regulate/#principles
- Complaints of dishonesty or discrimination against an individual solicitor or firm;
- Non payment of a professional fee where it was commissioned through the provision of legal services and where you have a County Court judgment
- Where a solicitor is acting as an insolvency agent which may constitute a criminal offence.
For details on how to make a complaint to the SRA please follow this link to the SRA website page on making a complaint https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor/
When going through a difficult time, you need to know that the person who’s going to be giving you advice will do so sensitively and that they know what they’re talking about.