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Complaints Procedure

Introduction

If you are dissatisfied with the service we have provided then you have the right to complain. The Legal Ombudsman service has been operational since October 6th, 2010 and is ultimately responsible for ensuring that complaints are dealt with appropriately.

However, before you contact the Legal Ombudsman you must first register an official complaint with us. Normally, the Legal Ombudsman expects you to give us 8 weeks to try to resolve the matter. If after 8 weeks you are still dissatisfied you can then involve  the  Legal Ombudsman. For more information on how the Legal Ombudsman works please  visit the Legal Ombudsman website.

Policy

We are committed to delivering high quality legal advice and client care. As a firm we have attained numerous accreditations and award over our long history, so the quality of service to you is very important to us.  However, on occasion, mistakes are made, or you may feel that the level of service was not what you had expected and it is important that, on those rare occasions, you feel there is way to make your feelings heard.  We want to hear from you if you feel this way because it helps us, in the short term to restore your confidence in us and, in the longer term, to improve our service levels.

We aim to resolve all complaints quickly and so that you are not left waiting for a resolution because it is important that we can get matters back on track to get the outcome you need in your case.

Our complaints procedure is as follows:

Definition

We define a complaint as any expression of client dissatisfaction which is not resolved at the initial stage (Stage 1).

Stage 1

In the initial stage, if you are unhappy about any aspect of the service or about the bill, please contact the fee-earner detailed in your initial letter, so that we can do our best to resolve the problem.  We would ask that you consider our initial correspondence and terms of bushiness which will have information with regard to service levels and timescales.  These may assist  you in deciding if you have cause to complain.

The fee-earner concerned will respond to your complaint.   If you do not feel that the fee-earner has resolved matters and you still have queries or concerns, please contact Jeremy Rawson who is the Complaints Partner to whom any final issues can be reported (Stage 2).

Stage 2

The Complaints Partner will record your complaint in the firm’s Complaints Record held on our case management system and your own file.  They will register your complaint within 2 working days of receipt of the complaint.

The Complaints Partner will write to you to acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 3 working days of receipt of the complaint, and may ask for further information with regard to your complaint.

Once you have provided any further information requested and the full details of your complaint the Complaints Partner will investigate it.

The Complaints Partner will consider the evidence and opinions provided and speak to any staff who have are the subject of the complaint or ask them to provide him with a written response.  He will then prepare a response for you.  The target for this is seven working days from the date of receipt of the complaint, although it can take longer (if this is the case we will let you know the timespan for resolving matters with you).

In preparing the response the Complaints Partner will analyse the complaint, identify the cause of any problem, offer you  an appropriate redress and consider whether it is necessary to correct any unsatisfactory procedure.  You will also be offered the opportunity to meet to discuss the investigation.

If a meeting is declined or is for some reason impractical we will write to you again in an endeavour to resolve the complaint to our mutual satisfaction within 5 working days of your decision to decline a meeting.

If, at a meeting or from your written reply to our detailed written response, you remain dissatisfied with what we have said and how we propose resolving your complaint, we will arrange for our decision to be reviewed.  This may happen in one of the following ways: -

Our own review of our handling of your complaint and why you are dissatisfied with our decision, we will complete this review within 5 working days of your letter of dissatisfaction or

If you wish, by arranging for someone else in the firm who is entirely unconnected with the complaint to review how it was handled and the decision taken.  In this instance the we will respond to you within 10 working days or

Where there is no other alternative which we both feel is likely to lead to resolution we will ask our local law society or another local firm of solicitors to review our handling of, and the decision on, your complaint (if they are willing to do this). This might take the form of mediation or some other type of alternative dispute resolution.  We will aim to complete this review within 10 working days of your letter of dissatisfaction (please note that, due to the involvement of external third parties, this deadline date may not be achievable

After the review has taken place you will be informed of the outcome, within 5 working days of the conclusion of the review.

Please note that we do have up to 8 weeks to investigate and deal with your complaint but you will see from our procedure that we aim to process any complaints much more quickly than that.  If you remain dissatisfied with the response, you can refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman to investigate your complaint (Stage 3)

Stage 3 

We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and complaints and redress mechanisms are provided through the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Legal Ombudsman.

All firms of solicitors are obliged to attempt to resolve problems that clients may have with the service provided. It is therefore important that you immediately raise your concerns with us.

If we are unable to resolve any such concerns to your satisfaction within 8 weeks then you are entitled to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman - https://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/ - P.O. Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ.

The Legal Ombudsman investigates complaints about service issues with lawyers. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint.

Complaints about a client’s rights under the General Data Protection Regulation must be submitted to the Information Commissioner’s Office – ico.org.uk.

This policy and procedure is also available online on our website.

https://www.bljsolicitors.co.uk/help/complaints/

Any disputes or legal issue arising from our Client Care and Terms of Business will be determined by the law of England & Wales and considered exclusively by the English & Welsh courts.

Timescales

In normal circumstances you are required to register a complaint within one year.  You must then give us 8 weeks to try to resolve your complaint before contacting the Legal Ombudsman. A complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must normally be made within six months of the date of the conclusion of the Firm's complaints procedure. In summary:

  • You must register your complaint with us within one year
  • The Legal Ombudsman expects you to give us 8 weeks to try to resolve your complaint
  • After this time, you can contact the Legal Ombudsman (but you must do so within 6 months)

Getting Started

To register a formal complaint, please email our complaints partner Jeremy Rawson  and include all the information suggested by the Legal Ombudsman - their website includes some useful checklists and sample letters.

In addition to the Legal Ombudsman, several other complaints bodies exist which are also able to deal with complaints about legal services - these are: Ombudsman Services, ProMediate, Small Claims Mediation and the European Online Dispute Resolution platform. Information about these alternatives can be found at: