Practice Policy on Complaints
The firm has documented arrangements for reporting and recording complaints, responding appropriately, identifying and correcting the cause of problems and offering redress.
All clients are provided with a Client Care Letter and Terms of Business that refers to the complaints procedure. If the complaint is directed at the person who has the conduct of the case, then they will decide whether it is a formal complaint as defined below. Any complaint directed at another fee earner is to be regarded as a complaint.
A formal complaint is defined as a clear expression of dissatisfaction from the client. When the client is simply is airing frustration this will not be regarded as a formal complaint. The matter will be referred to the fee earner dealing with the case rather than the nominated contact for complaints. The majority of client complaints arise out of the delay in the decision making process at the Home Office. Clients should be provided with information on the current state of the backlog at the Home Office when such information is available. Clients must always be informed of the expected timescale of work undertaken and of any subsequent changes to this.
Central Complaints Register
All complaints are to be forwarded to the Principal Solicitor, Mr. S. J. Osman in writing either by email at email@example.com or by post at Hounslow: 42 Lampton Road, Hounslow, Middlesex, TW3 1JH and he shall make a line entry in the Central Complaints Register. It may be appropriate in some circumstances to refer the matter to another senior member of staff for investigation.
The Central Complaints Register is to be kept in the office at all times and associated correspondence maintained in the files. It is the responsibility of the Principal Solicitor to analyse and evaluate the Register at least annually to investigate trends and implement corrective measures.
Investigating the Complaint
Within seven days of receiving the complaint, the Principal Solicitor will reply stating that the complaint is being investigated, indicate the time scale for resolution, and add the date of the reply to the complaints register.
The Principal Solicitorwill investigate the complaint to establish the facts and the cause of the complaint. He is to consider the client’s perspective, that of the practice and any future action to be offered to the client, including any redress. If the complaint is against the Principal Solicitor, then one of the consultants will investigate.
The Principal Solicitor is to contact the client in writing as to the outcome of the investigations and action proposed. This will be within 30 days of the earlier confirmatory letter and the date added to the central Register.
The client is asked to respond to the letter and specifically state whether the proposed action is satisfactory to deem the matter resolved. No reply by the client is deemed as an acceptance by the client of the proposal.
When the client accepts the proposal, or the proposal is deemed to be accepted, then the complaint is regarded as having been closed and a final entry is made on the central Register. The associated correspondence is annexed to their file and cross referenced with the Central Complaints Register.
If the client responds with a non acceptance to the proposal, a meeting is arranged between the client, the fee earner and the partner. The subject matter is addressed and a proposal for settlement of the complaint, together with an agreed course of action for the future is reached. A further note is taken for the file and the date recorded on the register.
If the matter cannot be agreed between the client, fee earner and the principal, then the principal will advise the client on how to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman by one of the following methods:
Telephone : 0300 555 0333
Overseas: +44 12 245 3050
In writing : PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
The Ombudsman service is only available to members of the public, very small businesses, charities, clubs and trusts. If you are unclear about your position, then you should contact the Legal Ombudsman direct to clarify whether or not they can deal with your complaint. You have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman at the conclusion of our complaints process providing you do so within 6 months of the date of our final written response.
Ordinarily you can also ask the Legal Ombudsman to investigate your complaint if you are referring your complaint within:
1. Either 6 years of the problem happening, or
2. 3 years from when you found out about it