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. 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.
Within 3 working days of receipt of your complaint, the Team Leader or Sub Team leader will contact you to acknowledge your complaint.
Your complaint will be assessed by an examination of your file and speaking to the lawyer responsible for your matter, and within 21 days of the date the complaint was acknowledged by the Team Leader or Sub Team Leader, they should be in a position to respond to you with their conclusions. However, if the 21 day period cannot be met a revised date will be given within that period together with an explanation as to why a response will take longer.
If following receipt of the Team Leaders or Sub Team Leaders conclusions 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; or if Mark is not available, his colleague Mark Smith who is a Partner at our Exeter Office and the deputy Client Care Partner. Both Mark Richardson and Mark Smith may be contacted at our Exeter Offices at Curzon House, Southernhay West, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1RS Tel 01392 210700.
If neither Mark Richardson nor Mark Smith is not available, you may be asked to leave a message with another member of the Client Care team.
They may also be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
What will happen next?
Either Mark Richardson or Mark Smith will within 3 working days send you a letter or email acknowledging your complaint and asking you to confirm or explain any further details in writing. We will in most cases deal with your complaints by correspondence, but if it is appropriate, we may suggest a meeting at this stage. We 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.
We 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 we 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 could 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 their Team Leader or Sub 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 complaint 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, 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. 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 either Mark Richardson, Mark Smith, or, in their absence or if appropriate, another Partner nominated by them. 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, 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 complaint 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 email@example.com; alternatively, the website may be found at www.legalombudsman.org.uk
From the 1 April 2023 the time limits for the Legal Ombudsman accepting a complaint are:
• one year from the date of the event/omission being complained about, or
• one year from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint
However, the Legal Ombudsman will not accept complaints where the act or date of awareness was before 6 October 2010.
Furthermore, any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman should be made within six months of our written response to the complaint.
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.
If you have concerns about our behaviour then you can contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for assistance. The SRA can help in circumstances such as where there has been dishonesty, loss of money, or unfair treatment due to a protected characteristic. The address is: The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RN (Tel. 0370 606 2555). Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.