Complaints Handling Procedure
We operate a complaints handling procedure so that we:
• know about client dissatisfaction immediately
• take steps to ensure that the dissatisfaction is addressed and resolved at once where possible;
• reassure all clients who do complain that we will address their concerns without delay and that
we take all complaints seriously;
• learn from experience so as to reduce the risk of complaints in the future.
A complaint is any expression of client dissatisfaction however it is expressed. This is a wide definition and will encompass many types of behaviour and communication. Our overriding objective is to address client dissatisfaction at the soonest possible opportunity, since it is much more likely that we can satisfactorily resolve any issue earlier rather than later.
Our Complaints Policy
All clients are informed at the outset of the matter that they have the right to complain, the name of the person with overall responsibility for complaints and the fact that we have a written Complaints Procedure (see Appendix 9) which they are entitled to ask for: this is done by always using the precedent client care letter and Terms of Business.
If a complaint is made, the details of the complaint should be noted immediately and a copy sent to the COLP. The client should be sent the standard Complaints Letter (see Appendix 10) which automatically prints the Complaints Procedure for sending with the letter to the client. The Complaints Procedure tells the client how the complaint will be handled and how quickly they will be given an initial and/or substantive response.
The fee earner should as a priority make sincere and empathetic efforts to address the client’s complaint. There may be occasions when a client feels unable to raise the matter with the fee earner concerned and may go direct to that person’s supervisor, who should then make sincere and empathetic efforts to address the issue, to avoid any escalation if possible.
If the issue cannot be resolved either by the fee earner or their supervisor, refer it immediately to the COLP who will then investigate the matter and follow the Complaints Procedure.
Complaints referred by the Legal Ombudsman (LeO)
It is possible that a client may complain direct to the LeO without first following the procedures given in the previous paragraphs. In such circumstances LeO will normally refer the complainant back to us and the COLP will liaise with LeO. The normal complaints procedures will then be followed, within which the client may be offered appropriate redress.
Complaints recording and review
It is the responsibility of the COLP to keep a central record of all complaints and to review all complaints at least annually to enable them to report to the practice on any trends. This review will examine and collate the causes of complaints, identify corrective actions and require Heads of Department to act on recommendations for correcting any unsatisfactory procedures. In this way we can use complaints data to help to prevent future difficulties.
1. We are committed to providing a high quality legal service and to dealing with all our clients fairly. We acknowledge that we may not always get it right so if something has gone wrong, including in relation to the bill, we need you to tell us.
2. How do I make a complaint?
2.1 You can contact us in writing (by letter, fax or email) or by speaking with our complaints manager, whose contact details are: Mark Chaston, email@example.com.
2.2 To help us to understand your complaint, and in order that we do not miss anything, please tell us:
2.2.1 your full name and contact details
2.2.2 what you think we have got wrong
2.2.3 what you hope to achieve as a result of your complaint, and
2.2.4 your file reference number (if you have it)
2.3 If you require any help in making your complaint we will try to help you.
3. How will you deal with my complaint?
3.1 We will record your complaint centrally.
3.2 We will write to you within three working days acknowledging your complaint, enclosing a copy of this policy.
3.3 We will investigate your complaint. This will usually involve:
3.3.1 Reviewing your complaint
3.3.2 Reviewing your file(s) and other relevant documents, and
3.3.3 speaking with the person who dealt with your matter
3.4 We may also need to ask you for further information or documents. If so, we will ask you to provide the information within a specific period of time.
3.5 We will update you on the progress of your complaint at appropriate times.
3.6 We may also, if appropriate, invite you to a meeting to discuss your complaint. You do not have to attend if you do not wish to or if you are unable to. We will be happy to discuss the matter with you on the telephone.
3.7 We will write to you at the end of our investigation to tell you what we have done and what we propose to do to resolve your complaint. Where possible, we will aim to do this within ten days of the date of our letter of acknowledgement.
4. What if I am not satisfied with the outcome?
4.1 If you are unhappy with the outcome of our complaints handling procedure please first let us know and we will review the matter.
4.2 If you are still unhappy you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to look into your complaint. You can contact the Legal Ombudsman:
4.2.1 by post at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
4.2.2 by telephone: 0300 555 0333, or
4.2.3 by email:
4.3 You must usually refer your complaint within six months of our final written response to your complaint and within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or within three years of you becoming aware of it). Further details are available on the website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
5 What will it cost?
5.1 We will not charge you for handling your complaint.
5.2 Please note that if we have issued a bill for work done on the matter, and all or some of the bill is not paid, we may be entitled to charge interest on the amount outstanding.
5.3 The Legal Ombudsman service is free of charge.
Initial Complaints Letter
[insert complainant’s name]
[insert complainant’s contact address]
Our ref: [insert complaint reference number]
Dear [insert complainant’s name]
My name is [insert name of person dealing with complaint] and I am a [Insert] with this firm. I will be dealing with your complaint that we received on [insert date complaint received]. You can email me at [insert email address of person dealing with complaint] or telephone me on [insert telephone number of person dealing with complaint].
Mansfields is committed to providing a high quality legal service and to dealing with all our clients fairly. I acknowledge that we may not always get it right and thank you for contacting us to bring this to my attention.
I am writing to you to acknowledge your complaint and to include a further copy of our Complaints policy, which provides full details of our complaints management process and general timeframes.
I understand that your complaint is:
Please do contact me immediately if I have misunderstood your complaint.
Please could you provide me with the following information or documentation by [insert date] to help me investigate your complaint:
[insert details of further information/documentation required]
I will respond to your complaint promptly with any decision or proposed action. I will aim to do this within 10 days of the date of this letter.
Our targets for dealing with complaints are:
1. Resolve the complaint informally within 3 business days of receipt of the complaint;
2. If it is unable to be resolved informally an investigation commenced within 14 calendar days.
3. Subject to sufficient information being available the investigation response to be issued within 28 calendar days of receipt.
The firm has eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved it within this time you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman. If you are not satisfied with our consideration of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. Please contact:
The Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ
Telephone: 0300 555 0333
The Legal Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about the bill if you have applied to the court for assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The Legal Ombudsman only accepts complaints from individuals and small businesses, charities or associations.