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Complaints Handling Policy

Internal Management of Complaints

Introduction

1.1

We are committed to providing a high-quality legal service and to dealing with all our clients fairly.  However sometimes we may not get it right so if something has gone wrong, including in relation to any bill, we ask that clients tell us.

1.2

The following describes how we handle complaints and ensure we meet our regulatory obligations.

1.3

Fundamentally, it is vital that we handle complaints promptly, fairly, openly and effectively.

Information to clients

1.4

We must inform clients in writing at the outset of a matter of:

  • Their right to complain (including about a bill).
  • How complaints can be made.
  • Their right to complain to the Legal Ombudsmen (LeO), the time frame for doing so and full details of how to contact the LeO.
  • The circumstances in which they may be liable to pay interest on an unpaid bill.

This is covered within the Client Information Pack and the Terms of Business.

Recording complaints

1.5

All complaints are handled by a Client Service Team manager. The details of the complaint will be entered into the complaints register by Matt Cutlan, our Chief Operating Officer.

1.6

Throughout the process of the complaint the Client Service Team manager will also document:

  • Any investigative steps taken.
  • Minutes of any meetings internally and/or with the complainant.
  • References to any documents relied on for resolving the complaint (e.g. letters, attendance notes, etc).

1.7

The Client Service Team manager and COO will consider whether a complaint involves matters that need to be notified externally, (e.g. to our professional indemnity insurers if the complaint involves negligence).

Acknowledging complaints

1.8

The Client Service Team manager will acknowledge complaints in writing to the complainant within 5 working days, enclosing a copy of our Client Facing Complaints Policy.

1.9

Our acknowledgement letter will contain:

  • A statement of our understanding of the complaint.
  • If appropriate, a request for further information that we need in order to consider the complaint, and a time frame for providing that information.
  • Contact details for the Client Service Team manager initially investigating the complaint and the COO.
  • Information on when we will next be in contact with the complainant.

1.10

The client will also be invited to attend a meeting (generally by phone or video-call) should they so wish where they will be able to outline and discuss their concerns.

Preliminary assessment

1.11

The Client Service Team manager will consider each complaint objectively.

1.12

This stage involves three steps:

  1. Itemising the issues in order to understand the complaint fully.
  2. Considering the complexity and seriousness of the complaint.
  3. Identifying any remedies sought by the complainant and considering the remedies available and/or appropriate.

Taking action

1.13

Any action will depend on the conclusions drawn from the preliminary assessment.

1.14

Generally, the Client Service Team manager will:

  • Investigate the complaint.
  • Obtain feedback from relevant people.
  • Provide a response to the complainant.

1.15

The level and extent of the investigations will be proportionate to the seriousness of the complaint. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the Client Service Team manager will review the relevant matter file as a first step.

1.16

Both clients and others involved in the complaint will be given the opportunity to provide their account of the situation and respond to points raised.

1.17

The Client Service Team manager will respond to the complainant promptly with any decision or proposed action. We will aim to do this within 10 working days of receiving the full details of the complaint from the client. If there is a delay, we will write to the complainant to explain the reasons.

1.18

The Client Service Team manager’s response will:

  • Re-state the details of the complaint.
  • Outline the investigations undertaken.
  • State our findings resulting from the investigations.
  • Offer a remedy or explain why we do not think it is appropriate to do so.
  • Explain how to accept the proposed remedy.
  • Inform the client of their right to complain to the LeO if they remain unsatisfied, the time frame for doing so and full details of how to contact the LeO.

1.19

The complainant’s decision will be recorded.

Request for a review

1.20

The client will be informed of their right to ask for a review if they are not happy with the outcome of our initial review

1.21

In this case our Chief Operating Officer will review the matter. He will follow a similar process to that outlined in 2.6 above. He will also take into account any additional information that may be provided by the client or by those dealing with the matter originally.

1.22

The COO will respond to the client with the outcomes of his review within 10 working days of the review request. The client will again be reminded of their right to refer the matter to the LeO should they so wish.

Timescales

1.23

We have eight weeks to resolve a complaint, after which the complainant may refer their complaint to the LeO for resolution.

Confidentiality

1.24

As with all client matters, we will treat complaints, and any information received during the course of dealing with complaints, with utmost confidentiality.

Vulnerable clients

1.25

Our complaints handling procedure is sensitive to individual differences and needs of our clients.

Last updated: February 2022