Legal Clarity - Complaints Handling Policy
Our Complaints Policy
Legal Clarity is committed to providing a high-quality legal service to all our clients. If you are unhappy about any aspect of our service, then please let us know – it will help us to improve. We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved, it within this time you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman.
Our Complaints Procedure
If you have a complaint, please contact us with the details. We would normally expect this to be made in writing and sent to:
Legal Clarity Limited,
148-149 Gt Charles Street,
or by email to:
What will happen next?
- We will send you a letter acknowledging receipt of your complaint within three working days of receiving it, enclosing a copy of this procedure.
- Your complaint will be recorded in our complaints register within three days of receipt.
- We will then investigate your complaint. This will normally involve passing your complaint to Richard Underwood (director), who will review your file and speak to the member of staff who acted for you.
- Richard Underwood will then invite you to a meeting to discuss and hopefully resolve your complaint. He will do this within 14 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter.
- Within three days of the meeting, Richard Underwood will write to you to confirm what took place and any solutions he has agreed with you.
- If you do not want a meeting or it is not possible, Richard Underwood will send you a detailed written reply to your complaint, including his suggestions for resolving the matter, within 21 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter.
- At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, you should contact us again and we will arrange for James Quinn (director) and Chris Wright (partner), to review the decision.
- We will write to you within 14 days of receiving your request for a review, confirming our final position on your complaint and explaining our reasons.
- If you are still not satisfied, you can contact:
Legal Ombudsmanabout your complaint. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman (www.legalombudsman.org.uk) within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint or within a year of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or you becoming aware of it). For further information, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333 or at email@example.com.
PO Box 6806
If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will let you know and explain why.
Legal Clarity – Office Policy - Complaints
Why do clients complain?
Complaints arise when clients fail to get the service they expect. They most often complain about a lack of courtesy or poor communication rather than technical competence. Main causes of complaints – usually made worse by repetition:
- Not returning phone calls.
- Not replying promptly to letters.
- Unexplained delays.
- Unclear communications.
- Not keeping clients informed of progress.
- Not checking regularly that you are still working to the solution the clients want or failure to address whether the solution is achievable.
- Costs – usually because you have failed to give the best information possible at the outset and failed to update this on a regular basis.
- Failure to bill in accordance with retainer, i.e. monthly
Approach to Complaints
The benchmark must be to resolve all complaints within the firm without the need for the involvement of the Legal Ombudsman, the new statutory body set up in October 2010 under the Legal Services Act 2007 to resolve complaints for all branches of the legal profession. It should be a priority to preserve the goodwill of the client, particularly if things have gone wrong. Even those complaints that initially appear unfounded should be taken seriously and properly investigated. The fact remains that the client is unhappy whether or not it is due to a misunderstanding. Inevitably, however, there will be occasions when the service does not meet the high standard set. There may be good reason for this. It is expected, however, that where this is so, it is admitted and efforts made to address the root cause. For this to happen we need complaints to be handled quickly and sympathetically with an absolute determination to achieve a resolution. We must then learn from the experience.
How to handle the complaint
All complaints should be referred immediately to Richard Underwood, for investigation and response. Richard Underwood will register the complaint in our complaints register. If the complaint is of a trivial nature, the Complaints Director may refer the matter to the fee earner with care and conduct of the file to respond. The Complaints Director will remain responsible for monitoring the complaint through to resolution and for reporting and should be kept fully informed by the fee earner concerned.
Receipt of the complaint should be acknowledged promptly and in any event within three working days. The complainant should be given a time scale for the investigation to be completed which will vary according to whether sufficient information on the elements of the complaint have been supplied, the complexity of the complaint, the availability of the fee earner concerned etc. Investigation and a response should be regarded as a priority. The usual timescale will be 14 working days from acknowledgement of the complaint.
A copy of this Complaints Procedure and of the Legal Ombudsman’s guide Legal Ombudsman: Here to Help should be provided to the complainant with the acknowledgement.
The investigation should be thorough and include the fee earner having the opportunity to comment on the complaint. When considering the complaint and how to resolve it, it is vital not only to identify any service failing on our part but also the effect it has had on the client.
Every effort should be made to resolve matters with the client. Any response should be comprehensive, considering cause and effect and offer effective remedies.
The Legal Ombudsman requires all complaints to be resolved within a maximum of 8 weeks.
All paperwork in respect of the complaint should be held independently of the client file within a dedicated complaint file.
In the event that the complainant is not satisfied with the response and/or any proposed resolution, the complaint should be escalated jointly to James Quinn and Chris Wright. The complainant should be advised of this and again given a time frame in which they can expect a response. This is usually 14 working days from the date of the escalation.
If the complaint relates to the conduct of a fee earner, Richard Underwood, James Quinn and Chris Wright may jointly refer the complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
If there is no agreed resolution, the complainant should be advised of their right to refer their complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 15870, Birmingham B30 9EB Tel 0300 555 0333 email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information regarding the Legal Ombudsman is available at www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
Appropriate remedies for valid complaints may include:
- an apology, whether formal or otherwise;
- prompt remedial action;
- reduction or refund of fees (or part thereof); and/or
All staff will be provided with training on complaints handling as part of their induction, on demand and at regular intervals as required. The training will be provided by Richard Underwood.