We are committed to providing a high-quality legal service to all our clients. When something goes wrong we need you to tell us about it. This will help us to improve our standards.
If you have a complaint, please contact the solicitor acting for you.
- Within three days we will send you a letter acknowledging your complaint and asking you to confirm or explain any details. If it seems appropriate we will suggest a meeting at this stage.
- We will then record your complaint in our central register and open a file for your complaint. We will also investigate your complaint by examining the relevant file.
- If appropriate we will then invite you to meet your solicitor to discuss and hopefully resolve your complaint. We would hope to be in a position to meet with you in this way no longer than 14 days after first receiving your complaint. If you would prefer not to meet, or if we cannot arrange this within an agreeable timescale, we will write fully to you setting out our views on the situation and any redress that we would feel to be appropriate.
- Within three days of any meeting we will write to you to confirm what took place and any suggestions that we have agreed with you. In appropriate cases we could offer an apology, a reduction of any bill or a repayment in relation to any payment received.
- At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, please let us know. We will then arrange to review our decision. We would generally aim to do this within 10 days. This will happen in one of the following ways.
Your solicitor will review his/her own decision;
We will arrange for someone in the firm who has not been involved in your complaint to review it.
- We will let you know the result of the review within five days of the end of the review. At this time we will write to you confirming our final position on your complaint and explaining our reasons.
- We must resolve all complaints by sending a final response to you within eight weeks from the date of the complaint.
- If you are not satisfied you may be able to have the matter independently reviewed by the Legal Ombudsman who can be contacted on 0300 555 0333, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, via their web site www.legalombudsman.org.uk or by writing to them at PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ. If you are unhappy about how the LeO or SRA have dealt with your complaint you can complain to the Legal Services Ombudsman (LSO), who is responsible for dealing with complaints about legal professional bodies. The address for the Legal Services Ombudsman is:
Legal Services Ombudsman
3rd Floor Sunlight House
Quay Street Manchester
Helpline: 0845 601 0794
In addition to directing a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman (LEO) you will be able to refer your dispute for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
There are three Institutions available to deal with disputes in the legal services sector, namely the Ombudsman Services, ProMediate and Small Claims Mediation. If required, we will provide contact details for those mediation services.
You may also wish to look at the ODR website if we have dealt with you by email;
Alternative complaints Bodies such as Ombudsman Services-www.ombudsman-services.org exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services which should both you and our firm wish to use such a scheme.
We do not agree to use the Ombudsman Services.
- Ordinarily, a complainant cannot use the Legal Ombudsman unless the complainant has first used the authorised person’s complaints procedure But a complainant can use the Legal Ombudsman if
- The complaint has not been resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction within eight weeks of being made to the authorised person; or
- An ombudsman considers that there are exceptional reasons to consider the complaint sooner, or without it having been made first to the authorised person; or
- Where an ombudsman considers that in-house resolution is not possible due to irretrievable breakdown in the relationship between an authorised person and the person making the complaint.
For example, an ombudsman may decide that the Legal Ombudsman should consider the complaint where the authorised person has refused to consider it, or where delay would harm the complainant.
Ordinarily, a complainant must refer a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of the date of the authorised person’s written response, if that written response prominently included:
- An explanation that the Legal Ombudsman was available if the complainant remained dissatisfied; and
- Full contact details for the Legal Ombudsman and a warning that the complaint must be referred to the Legal Ombudsman within six months.
Time limit from act/omission
Ordinarily, a complainant must also refer a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within:
- six years from the act/omission; or
- three years from when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint without taking advice from a third party;
When the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint will be assessed on the basis of the complainant’s own knowledge, disregarding what the complainant might have been told if he/she had sought advice.
Ombudsman extending time limits
If an ombudsman considers that there are exceptional circumstances, he/she may extend any of these time limits to the extent that he/she considers fair
For example, an ombudsman might extend a time limit if the complainant was prevented from meeting the time limit as a result of serious illness or where the time limit had not expired when the complainant raised the complaint with the authorised person.
- A complainant to the Ombudsman must be made by an individual or
- An enterprise which, at the time at which the complainant refers the complaint to the respondent, is a micro-enterprise within the meaning of 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 with an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million at the time at which the complainant refers the complaint to the respondent
- A club, association or organisation, the affairs of which are managed by its members or a committee or committees of its members, with an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million at the time at which the complainant refers the complaint to the respondent.
- A trustee of a trust with an asset value of less than £1 million at the time at which the complainant refers the complaint to the respondent.
- A personal representive of an estate of a person
- A benficiary of an estate of a person
- A potential client
For e and f the condition is that the services to which the complaint relates were provided by the respondent to a person –
- Who has subsequently died and
- Who had not by his or her death referred the complaint to the Ombudsman scheme
If a complainant who has referred a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman dies or is otherwise unable to act, the complaint can be continued by:
- Anyone authorised by law e.g. The executor of a complainant who has died or someone with a Lasting Power of Attorney from a complainant who is incapable
- The residuary beneficiaries of the estate of a complainant who has died
A complainant must not have been, at the time of the act/omission to which the complaint relates
- A Public Body (or acting for a Public Body) in relation to the services complained about; or
- An authorised person who procured the services complained about on behalf of someone else.
For example, where the complaint is about a Barrister who was instructed by a solicitor on behalf of a consumer, the consumer can complain to the ombudsman but the solicitor cannot.
A complainant can authorise someone else in writing (including an authorised person) to act for them in pursuing a complaint, but the Legal Ombudsman remains free to contact the complainant direct where it considers that appropriate.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help 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.