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Complaints Procedure

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 Costs Information and Terms of Business document sent to you when we agreed to act for you.

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 m.richardson@stephens-scown.co.uk

What will happen next?
Mr Richardson will send you a letter acknowledging your complaint and asking you to confirm or explain any details. We will in most cases deal with your complaints by correspondence but if it is appropriate we may suggest meeting at this stage. Mr Richardson may also delegate your complaint to another partner if this is administratively/geographically more convenient or sensible and will notify you who that is. From this point 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 his Team Leader.
3. The person investigating the complaint should be in a position to write to you expressing preliminary views no later than 21 days after he has ascertained full details of your complaint and its circumstances. Alternatively he may suggest that he holds a meeting with you to discuss your complaints and the ways in which they can be best be answered or resolved. If you particularly 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 a meeting is arranged then we will give you ample notice of that meeting and where it should take place. If you have particular difficulty in attending a meeting then please let us know. You can also if you wish bring a friend/representative with you to attend that meeting but no more than one other person may attend with you.
5. At any meeting we may put forward suggestions or alternatively ask for time to consider anything you have said and steps that we consider appropriate to resolve the issues. We will write to you within five 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.
6. If there is no meeting then we will write to you with the conclusion of our investigations and any suggestions that we have as to how any complaint could be resolved or remedied.
7. If you are not satisfied with our conclusions/any suggestions then please let us know within ten 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. We will then review the position in light of what you state. This review will be carried out by Mr Richardson or, in his absence or if appropriate, another partner nominated by him. We will notify you of the result of the review within ten 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 the local Law Society are used if it provides a conciliation service.

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. His address is: PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ (Tel. 0300 555 0333). His 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.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help you, if you are concerned about our behaviour. If you feel that we may have been dishonest or treated you unfairly because of your age, disability or other characteristic, then please see its website: http://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor.page.

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