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.
In most cases, an informal chat with the lawyer responsible for your matter will resolve your concerns. If it does not, you can formalise your complaint or speak to someone other than the lawyer responsible for your matter. Our Complaints Partner Mark Butson can record everything you are unhappy about and recommend the best solution for you. You can contact him at email@example.com.
What we need to know
To deal with your complaint correctly, it would be helpful when contacting us if you could provide the following information:
- Your name, contact details and preferred contact method.
- File reference number.
- Details of your concerns.
- How you would like us to put things right.
Our complaints procedure
If you have a complaint, please contact us with the details.
What will happen next?
If you telephone us, we will endeavour to resolve the issue in that call.
If you email or write to us then we will send you a letter acknowledging your complaint and asking you to confirm or explain the details set out. We will also let you know the name of the person who will be dealing with your complaint. You can expect to receive our letter within two working days of us receiving your complaint.
We will record your complaint in our central register and open a separate file for your complaint.
We will then start to investigate your complaint. This will normally involve the following steps.
- We will pass your complaint to our Client Care Partner (the ‘CCP’), If the complaint concerns our Client Care Partner, then it will be passed to another designated Member of the firm.
- The CCP will ask the member of staff who acted for you to reply to them concerning your complaint.
- The CCP will then examine their reply and the information in your complaint file. And, if necessary, he may also speak to them.
Within 14 working days of our sending to you our acknowledgement letter the CCP will then invite you to a meeting and discuss and hopefully resolve your complaint. You may choose to have the meeting in-person, by telephone or by video call (such as Zoom or Teams).
Within three working days of the meeting the CCP will write to you to confirm what took place and any solutions he has agreed with you.
In any case, the CCP will send you a detailed reply to your complaint. This will include his suggestions for resolving the matter. He will do this within 20 working days of sending to you our written acknowledgement of your complaint referred to in Step 1 above.
At this stage, if you are still not satisfied you contact us again. We will then arrange to review our decision. This will happen in one of the following ways.
- Another Member of the firm can review the CCP’s decision within 10 working days.
- We can ask our local Law Society or another local firm of solicitors to review your complaint within five working days. We will let you know how long this process will take.
- we can invite you to agree to independent mediation within five days. We will let you know how long this process will take.
We will let you know the result of the review within 14 working days of receiving your request for a review. At this time, we will write to you confirming our final position on your complaint and explaining our reasons. We will also remind you of the name and address of the Legal Ombudsman. If you are still not satisfied, you can contact them about your complaint.
If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will let you know and explain why.
What to do if we cannot resolve your complaint
- The Legal Ombudsman can help you if we are unable to resolve your complaint ourselves. They will look at your complaint independently and it will not affect how we handle your case.
- Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have, then you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman:
- You have tried to resolve your complaint with us first; and
- You have suffered significant financial loss, distress, inconvenience or detriment, which deems it proportionate for them to investigate.
- Any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of the date of our final written response to your complaint. You should also be aware that the Ombudsman will consider your complaint if you refer it on to them within either of the following:
- One year from the date of the act or omission being complained about; OR
- One year from the date when you should reasonably have known that there was cause for complaint.
- Note that the Legal Ombudsman service cannot be used by businesses or most other organisations, unless they are below certain size limits. Further details are available from the Legal Ombudsman’s website.
- It is worth considering, whilst it is open to you to submit a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, they apply strict criteria to determine whether they will ultimately accept a complaint for a full investigation. They have the discretion to dismiss or discontinue all or part of a complaint if they believe:
- It does not have any reasonable prospects of success.
- You have not suffered (and are unlikely to suffer) significant financial loss, distress, inconvenience or detriment.
- It is frivolous, vexatious, lacks merit or where there is a compelling reason not to accept it.
- The likely impact, size, complexity, scope, volume of evidence or your conduct render it disproportionate/unreasonable/impossible for the complaint to be investigated.
- you have previously complained about the same issue to them, unless you provide material evidence that is likely to affect the outcome which only became available to you after you submitted the original complaint.
- There has been undue delay in the complaint being raised.
- If, during the course of an ongoing investigation by the Ombudsman, a revised/increased offer is made by us which is deemed to be fair and reasonable redress and you decide to reject that offer, the Ombudsman has the discretion to dismiss or discontinue all or part of your complaint.
- If you have already accepted an offer to settle your complaint made by us during our internal complaint handling process, which is deemed to be fair and reasonable redress, unless there has been some significant intervening act, you will not be able to have that agreement overturned in the hope of securing a preferential outcome by pursuing your complaint via the Ombudsman.
What to do if you are unhappy with our behaviour
The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
Visit the ‘Reporting an individual or firm’ page of their website to see how you can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
What to do if your complaint relates to an insurance policy
If your unresolved complaint relates to an insurance policy covering your case, you may contact the Financial Ombudsman Service:
- Phone: 0800 023 4567
- Online complaint forms available via their website
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Post: Financial Ombudsman Service, Exchange Tower. Harbour Exchange. London. E14 9SR.
What to do if your complaint remains unresolved
If a complaint cannot be resolved, you may also be able to ask for it to be referred to a process of alternative dispute resolution using a certified provider. We are not required to agree to such a request. In any case this is not available to businesses, only consumers. We will give you more information about that right if it becomes relevant.
T C Smith Solicitors LLP:
Solicitors Regulation Authority: