We value your business and do not wish you to have any reason to be unhappy with us. We are confident of providing a high quality service. It is therefore important that you raise any concerns you may have with us immediately so that we may address them. This will help us to improve our standards.
If you are dissatisfied with the service received or if you are dissatisfied with regards to a charge on a bill received, please first contact the lawyer who is dealing with your matter and they will try to resolve your concerns informally. If you would prefer not to speak to the lawyer concerned please contact Alison Lowe, our Client Service Manager who will arrange for another senior lawyer to speak with you informally. Alison Lowe can be contacted at 46 Silver Street, Lincoln, LN2 1ED, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If it is clear that you remain dissatisfied and you do not already have a copy of our complaints policy, we will send you one. In any event, a copy can be requested from email@example.com or by telephone or by letter from any of our offices. Our aim will always be to deal with your concerns as quickly as possible and without recourse to any formal complaints procedure, if that is possible.
You should write to Alison Lowe our Client Service Manager at 46 Silver Street, Lincoln, LN2 1ED or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please clearly mark your letter or email “formal complaint” and outline the cause of your dissatisfaction and if possible the action you would like us to take in order to remedy that dissatisfaction. All correspondence addressed to the “Senior Partner” or “Managing Partner” relating to complaints will be referred to the Client Service Manager.
We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within five working days. We will inform you of the name of the person who will deal with your complaint. The firm takes any form of complaint very seriously and as a result of our ongoing commitment to ensuring good client care and quality of service, we may also outsource stage 2 of our complaints procedure to an Independent Complaints Handler, Resolve Consultancy. We believe that this is in the interest of our clients as it allows us to obtain an independent view on any complaints and also constructive feedback on how our services can be improved. Your complaint will be acknowledged by them within five working days and a thorough investigation undertaken. We will record your complaint in our central register.
The person investigating the complaint will have full access to all the information and personnel that they require to investigate your complaint properly. They may contact you directly to discuss and confirm your heads of complaints and request any further information from you to assist the investigation.
We will ask the person investigating the complaint to recommend the action which they believe would be recommended by the Legal Ombudsman if the complaint was referred to their office.
The person investigating your complaint will provide you with a detailed assessment report together with their recommendations to resolve the complaint, if any, a copy of which will be first forwarded to our Practice Director for review. If the complaint is outsourced, we will generally follow their recommendations made but if we think they are not appropriate we will explain our reasons to you.
We have eight weeks from the date we receive your complaint to fully investigate and provide our final response to you.
If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will contact you to explain why.
You will not be charged for our time spent dealing with a complaint internally nor for the time of our Independent Complaints Handler.
If you are still not satisfied, the next step is for you to contact the Legal Ombudsman by one of the following methods:
The Ombudsman service is only available to members of the public, very small businesses and most charities, clubs and trusts. If you are unclear about your position, then you should contact the Legal Ombudsman direct to clarify whether or not they can deal with your complaint. Alternatively, please refer to the Legal Ombudsman’s scheme rules which are available by clicking on the following link: http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/downloads/documents/publications/Scheme-Rules.pdf
You have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman at the conclusion of our complaints process providing you do so within 6 months of the date of our final written response.
In addition, it is ordinarily necessary that you ask the Legal Ombudsman to investigate your complaint within either 6 years of the problem happening, or 3 years from when you found out about it.
Alternative complaints bodies such as ProMediate (http://www.promediate.co.uk/) exist, which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and our firm wish to use such a scheme. Sills & Betteridge LLP will not usually agree to use ProMediate as we prefer the Legal Ombudsman’s clear adjudication process.
What we learn from complaints
Our management regularly review our central records of complaints and their outcome to identify trends and to determine whether action can be taken to improve our service to clients.
The person with overall management of our complaints process is our Practice Director Martyn Hall. In the unlikely event of a complaint against him, the complaint would be managed by our Compliance Officer for Legal Practice Karen Bower-Brown.
Alternative remedy for complaints about fees
If you are dissatisfied with our bill, you have the right to apply to the High Court for an assessment of our charges under ss. 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974. You will normally have to pay a fee for this application. The High Court will normally make an order about the costs of the assessment. We hope that before making such an application you would first use our complaints procedure explained above.