Client Satisfaction/Complaints Procedure
It is important to us that we provide services of the highest quality to all of our clients. We aim to ensure that any complaints that clients may have are identified and dealt with in accordance with this procedure.
2 What is a complaint?
A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction by a client. This may include the client feeling that their expectations of what they consider to be a good service have not been met. It might also raise issues of professional misconduct or negligence.
A complaint can also be made by a prospective client if we have:
- Unreasonably refused a service to a complainant
- Persistently or unreasonably offered a service that the complainant does not want
3 What we do if someone complains
All complaints must be dealt with sympathetically and quickly. Our reputation depends on this, as it is all part of our high standard of service and incorporates client care. If you are contacted by a client directly with a complaint and you cannot resolve it immediately, notify Lubna Khan who will then investigate the complaint in accordance with our complaints handling procedure for clients (see below). She will identify the cause of any problem of which the client has complained, offering any appropriate redress and correct any unsatisfactory internal procedures and/or undertake any necessary remedial action. She will record details of the complaint and its resolution in our central register of complaints. Complaints data is reviewed annually as part of the general review of risk.
It is the responsibility of everyone in the firm to report without delay anything that could give rise to a claim for compensation, however minimal and whatever its merit. Similarly, if a client threatens legal action against the firm, all staff are obliged to report this without delay, even if they do not believe the threat. You must not try to deal with the situation yourself— still less ignore the problem and hope that it will go away. It should also go without saying that you should not make any statement that could be construed as an admission of fault, nor are you entitled to offer compensation, including a discount on any bill that has been issued. Any failure by the firm to meet the requirements of its insurers could lead to penalties against it. Failure to report any such circumstances without delay could therefore potentially be treated as a disciplinary offence.
Clients are notified in our client care letter/terms of business of their right to complain. If the client asks for a copy of our standard procedure, you should forward it to them in writing. Our complaints handling procedure for clients is as follows:
COMPLAINTS HANDLING PROCEDURE
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 at any point you become unhappy with the service we provide to you or you have concerns about your bill, then you should inform us immediately so that we can do our best to resolve the problem for you.
If you have a complaint, please contact us with the details.
What will happen next?
- We will send you a letter acknowledging receipt of your complaint within three days of receiving it, enclosing a copy of this procedure
- We will then investigate your complaint. This will normally involve passing your complaint to our principal solicitor, Lubna Khan, who will review your matter file and speak to the member of staff who acted for you.
- Lubna Khan will then invite you to a meeting to discuss and hopefully resolve your complaint. She will do this within 14 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter.
- Within three days of the meeting, Lubna Khan will write to you to confirm what took place and any solutions she has agreed with you.
- If you do not want a meeting or it is not possible, Lubna Khan will send you a detailed written reply to your complaint, including her suggestions for resolving the matter, within 21 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter.
- At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, you should contact us again and we will arrange for someone unconnected with the matter at the firm to review her decision.
- We will write to you within 14 days of receiving your request for a review, confirming our final position on your complaint and explaining our reasons.
- If we are unable to resolve your complaint within eight weeks after you have brought it to our attention, then you can have the complaint independently looked at by the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman investigates complaints about poor service from lawyers.
The Legal Ombudsman can investigate complaints up to six years from the date of the problem happening or within three years of when you found out about the problem. If you wish to refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman this must be done within six months of our final response to your complaint. The contact details for the Legal Ombudsman are as follows:
- Website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone 0300 555 0333 between 8.30am to 5.30pm
Calls from both mobiles and landlines to 03 numbers cost no more than calls to national geographic numbers (starting 01 or 02). Calls are recorded and may be used for training and monitoring purposes.
- For minicom call 0300 555 1777
- In writing: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
Do not send original documents to the Legal Ombudsman. They will scan any documents you send to make computer copies and then destroy the originals.
9. If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will let you know and explain why.
10. We will not charge you for handling your complaint.
Solicitors Regulation Authority or Legal Ombudsman?
The Solicitors Regulation Authority could help you if you think we as your solicitor might be dishonest or you have concerns about our behaviour.
- Shutting down our law firm without telling you.
- Dishonesty or deliberately overcharging you.
- Taking or losing your money.
- Treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
The Legal Ombudsman could help you if you are not happy with our work or service and need to put things right.
- Not replying to your emails, letters or calls.
- Losing your documents or giving you unclear advice.
- Charging you an amount you are not happy with.
- Not explaining issues properly so you do not understand.
Where a solicitor has breached the SRA Principles then a report should be made to the SRA. If the Legal Ombudsman thinks your case involves a breach of the Principles, they will refer your case to the SRA.
If your report is for poor service, the SRA will refer you to the Legal Ombudsman; whom have the power to award compensation for poor service, or to reduce or refund your legal fees.
However, you should report the matter directly to the SRA if you think a firm or anyone regulated by the SRA has breached an SRA Principle. A ful list of the principles can be obtained from the SRA website.
You can also report a firm or someone regulated by the SRA for non-payment of professional fees if
- you have a County Court judgment in respect of the fee, and
- the judgment relates to the practice in connection with providing a legal service.
The SRA will always consider allegations of dishonesty or discrimination.
If Woodhall Solicitors is closed and we as a firm owe you money, you may be able to make a claim from the SRA Compensation Fund.
When reporting, please
- set out your concerns clearly,
- identify individuals you consider responsible,
- attach any evidence you have in support.
- Complete the report form on the SRA website.
For guidance on the SRA complaints process, please call their contact centre. The number is provided on their website.