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Complaints Procedure

Complaints Procedure – Clients

We aim to provide a high quality service for our clients, but if a problem does arise or if you are unhappy about our service or what you have been charged, we want to hear about it. 

If you believe that we have got something wrong, have concerns with the way we are dealing with you or are unhappy with an invoice you have received, please do tell us. The sooner you tell us, the sooner we can take steps to put matters right.

Our complaints procedure

You should first discuss the problem with the lawyer dealing with your matter, but if this does not resolve the problem, please contact the Team Leader, whose name is given in the letter sent to you when we agreed to act for you and which you will have received along with our Terms of Business. The Team Leader may delegate the handling of your complaint to a Sub-Team Leader where they consider that it is appropriate to do so.

If at this stage the problem is not resolved please contact Mark Richardson, who is a Partner at our Exeter office, and who has overall responsibility for client care. 

Mark may be contacted at our Exeter Offices at Curzon House, Southernhay West, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1RS Tel 01392 210700. 

He may also be contacted via e-mail at clientcare@stephens-scown.co.uk 

What will happen next?

Mark Richardson will within 3 working days send you a letter acknowledging your complaint and asking you to confirm or explain any further details. We will in most cases deal with your complaints by correspondence, but if it is appropriate we may suggest a meeting at this stage. Mark may also delegate the handling of your complaint to another partner if this is administratively/geographically more convenient or sensible and will notify you who that is. 

Mark may discuss with you at the outset the possibility of resolving the problem without following the formal complaints procedure.  If matters can be resolved on this basis, the agreed action will be taken and he will either telephone or email you to confirm the action that has been taken.  In agreeing to this more informal resolution, you are not agreeing that you will not pursue the complaint on a more formal basis, but we would hope that the matter can be resolved more quickly as a result of this action being taken.

If the matter is not resolved on an informal basis, the following steps will be taken:-

  1. Your complaint will be registered in our central register. 
  2. Your complaint will be investigated by an examination of your file and speaking to the lawyer responsible for your matter and the Team Leader.
  3. The person investigating the complaint should be in a position to write to you expressing views no later than 21 days after the date of the letter of acknowledgement.  Alternatively they may suggest that they hold a meeting with you to discuss your complaints and the ways in which they can be best be answered or resolved. If you would like to have a meeting then you should raise this during that period and we will do our best to arrange a meeting as soon as reasonably practicable.
  4. If the 21 day period cannot be met, a revised date will be given within that period together with an explanation as to why the response will take longer than usual.
  5. If a meeting is arranged then we will give you ample notice of that meeting and where it should take place. You can, if you wish, bring a friend/representative with you.
  6. At any meeting we may put forward suggestions or alternatively ask for time to consider any further information received.  We will write to you within 5 working days of any meeting to confirm that the meeting took place and set out any suggestions that we have either agreed with you or have subsequently decided to put forward.
  7. Please note that any arrangements for a meeting will need to comply with current Government restrictions relating to Covid-19. It may be that meetings, if required, will need to be conducted remotely rather than in person.
  8. If you are not satisfied with our conclusions/any suggestions then please let us know within 10 working days of the date on which we write to you. You should let us know in what ways you are dissatisfied with what we have stated/suggested and what you consider to be an appropriate resolution. We will then review the position in light of what you say. This review will be carried out by Mark Richardson or, in his absence or if appropriate, another partner nominated by him. We will notify you of the result of the review within 10 working days of the date on which you send to us your letter requesting the review. We would very much hope that your complaint will have been satisfactorily resolved by that stage. If it has not, then we may suggest that the services of an alternative complaints body are used, should we both wish to use such a scheme.

If we do not hear from you within 21 days of our letter setting out our views or of any letter sent after a review or a meeting, then we will assume the complaint is resolved and make the appropriate record in the complaints register.

If you are not satisfied by the outcome of our complaints process?

If you are not satisfied with our handling of your problem you may ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider your complaint. The address is: PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ (Tel. 0300 555 0333). The e-mail address is enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk alternatively the website may be found at www.legalombudsman.org.uk 

The time limits for the Legal Ombudsman accepting a complaint are:

  • six years from the date of the event/omission, or
  • Three years from when you should have known about the complaint

However, the Legal Ombudsman will not accept complaints where the act or date of awareness was before 6 October 2010.

The timing for referral of complaints to the Legal Ombudsman is six months from the end of our complaint process.

If you object to our bill you also have the right to apply to the Court for an assessment of our charges under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.

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