We value all our clients and take complaints very seriously. Our top priority when handling complaints is to put right any wrongs. We also try to deal with complaints quickly.
All our staff are made aware of our procedures for handling complaints and should be open-minded, positive and understand if you need to make a complaint.
Our complaints procedure applies to all complaints, including complaints in relation to the work we are doing for you and complaints about bills. It is divided into three levels.
Initially we hope that you will immediately raise any difficulties with the member of our staff undertaking your work, either verbally or in writing. We hope that most problems or misunderstandings will be resolved at this level.
Staff receiving a complaint are required to complete a file note explaining the details of the complaint, what was said by both parties and the action taken. One copy of the file note will be retained on your file and a second copy will be forwarded to the Complaints Handling partner.
If you would rather not speak to the person handing your matter about your complaint, or you remain unhappy after speaking to them about it, please immediately contact Rachael Griffiths. You may write, email email@example.com or telephone 01905 354012.
Rachael will write to you acknowledging your complaint and ask you to confirm or explain the details if you have not already done so. A copy of this procedure will be enclosed with the letter.
Rachael will then investigate your complaint. This will normally involve reviewing your matter file and speaking to the member of staff acting on your behalf.
Rachael may invite you to a meeting to discuss and, we hope, resolve the complaint. If there is a meeting with you, we will write to you within five days of the meeting confirming what took place and any solutions agreed with you.
Alternatively, Rachael will instead send you a detailed written reply to your complaint, including suggestions for resolving the matter and this will usually be within 21 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter. The letter will confirm our position on the complaint and explain our reasons.
If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will let you know and explain why.
Level Three – Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman
If we are unable to resolve a complaint about our service or your bill to your satisfaction, or if we do not give you our final response to your complaint within 8 weeks of you formally lodging it, you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman is the statutory complaints handling body for complaints about lawyers and can be contacted at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ or firstname.lastname@example.org, by telephone on 0300 555 0333 or Minicom on 0300 555 1777. Their website is www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
In the case of a complaint about your bill, you may be entitled to have your bill assessed by the court under Sections 70 – 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974. If any bill, or part of a bill remains unpaid whilst a complaint is under investigation, we may be entitled to charge interest if the bill is upheld. Please note that, if you exercise your right to have a bill assessed by the court, the Legal Ombudsman may not be able to consider your complaint.
The Legal Ombudsman expects complaints to be made to them within one year of the date of the act or omission about which you are concerned or within one year of you realising there was a concern. You must also refer your concerns to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of our final response to you. The Legal Ombudsman may extend time limits to the extent it considers fair if an ombudsman considers it is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances.
Please note that to be entitled to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, you must be:
- An individual;
- A business or enterprise that is a micro-enterprise (Micro enterprises are defined as enterprises which employ fewer than 10 persons and whose annual turnover or annual balance sheet total does not exceed €2 million. (Article 1 and Article 2(1) and (3) of the Annex to Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC, as that Recommendation had effect at the date it was adopted.));
- A charity that has an annual income, net of tax, of less than £1 million;
- A club/association/organisation, the affairs of which are managed by its members/a committee/a committee of its members, that has an annual income, net of tax, of less than £1 million;
- A trustee of a trust with an asset value of less than £1 million; or
- A personal representative or beneficiary of the estate of a person who, before they died, had not referred the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
Alternative Complaints Handling Body
Under EU law, we are required to inform you that alternative complaints handling bodies (such Pro mediate, Brow Farm, Top Road, Frodsham, Cheshire WA6 6SP, 01928 732455, www.promediate.co.uk) exist which are able to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and we wish to use such a scheme. However, given that the decision of a mediator is not binding on you or us we see no benefit in this and it will be unusual for us to agree to a reference to such a body.
The Complaints Handling Partner reviews complaints records regularly and reports to the firm’s Management Board on all trends. It is our policy to address any underlying problems and, in this way, use complaints data to prevent future difficulties.
Our staff are regularly made aware of general complaints issues to remind them of how to handle complaints from clients and to raise awareness of issues that generate complaints.