HerbertLewis Solicitors is committed to providing high quality legal services to all our clients. When something goes wrong we like our clients to inform us, so that we may maintain and improve our service.
We want to give you the best possible service. However, if at anytime you become unhappy or concerned about the service we provided to you, then you should inform us immediately. We will do our best to resolve the problem.
In the first instance, it may be helpful to contact the person who is working on your case to discuss your concerns. If you would like to make a formal complaint, then you read our file complaints procedure (link to your process).
What to do if we cannot resolve your complaint
The Legal Ombudsman can help you if we are unable to resolve your complaints ourselves. They will look at your complaints independently and it will not affect how we handle your case.
Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check that you tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have then you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
- Within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint and
- No more than six years from the date of act/omission or
- No more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was a cause for complaint
Contact details for Legal Ombudsman
Call: 0300 555 0333 between 9.00am to 17.00pm
COMPLAINTS DIRECTLY TO THE SOLICITORS REGULATION AUTHORITY
You can also report directly to the Solicitors Regulation Authority if you think a Solicitor might be dishonest or have concerns about their behaviour. Examples include:
- Shutting down their firm without telling you
- Dishonesty or deliberately overcharging you
- Taking or losing your money
- Treating you unfairly because of age ,a disability or other characteristic
- You are being discriminated
- When reporting you may wish
- Set out concerns clearly
- Identify individuals you consider responsible
- Attach any evidence
- You may send to the SRA Reports Team or call the SRA Contact centre 03706062555
What to do if you have a complaint
If you are dissatisfied with the service that you have received, in the first instance please contact the person that dealt with your matter, with the details.
What will happen next?
We will send you a letter to acknowledge your complaint and will ask you to confirm or explain the details. We will also let you know who will be dealing with the complaint. You can expect to receive our letter within 3 days of us receiving your complaint, enclosing a copy of this procedure.
We will record your complaint in our central register and open a file for your complaint.
We will then investigate your complaint. If the Principal acted for you then she will consider your complaint and will invite you to a meeting to discuss the matter.
If someone else acted for you then the Principal will review the matter file and speak to the person who acted for you. The Principal may then invite you to a meeting to discuss the matter. This will be done within 14 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter.
Within 3 days of the meeting the Principal will write to you to confirm what took place and any solutions that have been agreed with you.
If you do not want a meeting or it is not possible, the Principal will send you a detailed reply to your complaint. This will include any solutions to resolving the matter. This will be done within 21 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter.
At this stage if you are still not satisfied, you should contact the firm again and we will arrange a review, or mediation by an independent local solicitor.
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 then contact the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ. http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk
INTERNAL COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE
It is HerbertLewisSolicitors policy to maintain good communications with its clients, and to provide written confirmation, which is clear and understandable. To support this policy, the firm has established documented procedures for handling complaints which ensure that all clients are aware from the outset of instructions, whom to approach initially to express or record their dissatisfaction with the service provided. The client will then be provided with a copy of the firm’s complaint procedure.
Any complaints received by a fee earner must be reported to the Principal at the earliest opportunity.
A complaint is defined by the firm as any expression of dissatisfaction expressed either verbally or in writing by any person in relation to work conducted by any member of the firm.
Complaints are not restricted to what any member of the firm regards as “serious complaints”. Any complaint should be reported even if regarded as minor/trivial by the member of staff. Complaints are not restricted to those made by clients. Complaints made by any person/organisation are included in the definition above.
On being informed of a complaint, the Principal will enter the complaint in the Central Complaints Register. The Principal will review the Central Complaints Register quarterly and will discuss complaints with fee earners and observe any trends.
Responding to Complaints
The Principal will acknowledge each complaint promptly in writing, even if it has been received by telephone. This should be within 3 days of first receiving the complaint. The Principal may send the letter by either email or fax as well as by post to ensure prompt receipt.
The letter will include;
· A statement of the understanding of the complaint
· A request for any further information with a time frame to produce it
· If no remedy sought, ask the client to outline what remedy they would like and a timescale to provide this.
· The contact details of the Principal
· When the client can expect the next contact and what will be provided at that time.
· A copy of the firm’s public policy on complaints management
The letter should also include;
Contact details for the Legal Ombudsman including their website and postal address
Advice that the Legal Ombudsman can review the matter at the end of the consideration of the complaint by the firm
The time limit for a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
Treat each complaint seriously
All complaints should be treated seriously and dealt with on their own merit. All complaints must be responded to, even where the ultimate decision may be that it is a frivolous or vexatious complaint.
Understand what the client is complaining about
Itemise the issues that your client is complaining about, if this has not already been done. Contact the client if more information is needed.
Identify remedies sought and consider the range of solutions that could be offered
Clients will expect action even where they do not specify what outcome they would like. It may be necessary to ask the client what outcome they would like.
The client may just want an apology and improved future service rather than compensation. However they may wish compensation if they have borne extra expense or lost money as a result of the firm’s actions.
The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that the process for handling complaints is carried out with the aim of achieving a mutually satisfactory conclusion and ensuring that the circumstances and issues relevant to any complaint are investigated, analysed and corrective actions taken as appropriate; and to fulfil part of the requirement for compliance.
The scope of this procedure covers the decision-making process relative to formal complaints analysis and corrective action, and escalation of the complaint if appropriate.
The Principal is responsible for the decision making process in liaison with the relevant fee earner. The complaints record will be reviewed quarterly to identify trends and determine whether action can be taken to improve the service. The results of such review will be documented.
On receipt of a complaint relevant client correspondence from the fee earner, The Principal shall then, within ten days, identify and analyse the cause(s) which gave rise to the complaint, liaising as appropriate with the client, the relevant fee earner and/or category supervisor.
On completion of the investigation the Principal shall make her decision and take one of the following actions as appropriate:
1. Confirming in writing any agreement reached with the client.
2. Inform the client in writing of the results of the investigation and of the client’s right to complain to the Ombudsman in the event of any dissatisfaction with the outcome of the investigation.
The Principal shall then record on the Complaint Record
1. Brief details of the decision(s) taken and communicated to the client
2. Any corrective action to be taken, and if so:
· The name of the fee earner responsible for the action.
· The timescales within which the action must be carried out
The Principal shall:-
1. Return related correspondence, together with the investigation findings and letter of reply to the client, to the relevant fee earner for filing in the client file.
2. Diaries a follow up meeting with the fee earner to ensure that all corrective/preventative action is carried out by the due date and note the Complaint Record accordingly and sign it.
3. Place the Complaint Record on the Central Register.
The Principal must then consider whether disciplinary action is necessary and relevant to the findings of the complaint investigation. If so, full details shall be provided to the relevant fee earner.
If on examination of the complaint it is felt that existing procedures and/or documentation should be changed, then this should be initiated immediately and documented in the Office Manual, if appropriate.
The firm’s client care letter and terms and conditions contain reference to the complaints procedure.