Upon receipt of a client complaint the CCO will: –
- Record it in the Central Register noting the client name, the person dealing with their matter, file reference, the nature of complaint and the date that the complaint was opened.
- Acknowledge the complaint to the client within 5 working days of receiving details of it. This will include a copy of this procedure so that the client is aware of its contents and will have the contact details of the Legal Ombudsman should they be required.
- Contact the person in day to day charge of the file requesting a fully detailed response to the complaint within 5 working days.
- Personally investigate the matter using our case management system ‘Proclaim’ and/or the paper file as may be appropriate to the particular complaint. The CCO may lack the particular professional skills to investigate complaints outside types of work with which they are currently familiar with. In such cases they may refer it to the relevant Team Leader or Director responsible for that Team, to investigate. In all other respects, that investigation will be carried out by the Team Leader or Director responsible in accordance with this procedure. The Team Leader or Director responsible will keep the CCO advised of the progress of the complaint and, will advise the CCO of the outcome and any procedural changes or training which may be required.
- Provide the client with a full written response within 8 weeks from receipt of the original complaint.
If there is any good reason why any timescale cannot be met the CCO will advise the client accordingly as soon as possible.
In investigating the complaint, the CCO will: –
- Do so fully and fairly.
- Apologise, if it is appropriate.
- Use their best efforts to provide an outcome that either resolves the complaint or satisfies the client.
- Make any compensatory offer which is felt appropriate.
- Where appropriate agree with the client a plan to take the matter forward.
- Advise the client when it may be appropriate to seek independent legal advice.
- Advise a Director if any possible negligence issue arises.
If you remain dissatisfied at the end of our complaints process, you can contact the Legal Ombudsman. From 01 April 2023 a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman is expected to be referred to them by no later than 1 year from the date when the problem being complained about occurred or 1 year from the date when the client should have realised that there was cause for a complaint. The Legal Ombudsman does have discretion to extend this 1 year deadline if it feels it would be fair and reasonable to do so.
If we send you a final written response to your complaint within eight weeks of receiving it, the time limit for you to refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman would be 6 months from the date of the final response letter.
If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman, their contact details are as follows:
Telephone: 0300 555 0333
Postal address: Legal Ombudsman, P O Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ.
Other complaints resolution bodies exist and are competent to deal with complaints about legal services if you and ACSL Solicitors agree to use such a scheme at the end of our internal complaints process. These bodies provide Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services. Small Claims Mediation is one such body, details of which can be found at www.small-claims-mediation.co.uk; and another is Ombudsman Services, details of which can be found at www.ombudsman-services.org. Under the provisions of the EU Directive on Consumer Alternative Dispute Resolution, to pursue this process you would have to be a “consumer”, namely an individual acting for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside your trade, business, craft or profession.
Note that the Legal Ombudsman cannot deal with a complaint about a bill if the client has applied to the Court for assessment of that bill.
If there is a professional issue that we have not resolved with you via your complaint, and you feel your complaint is about our behaviour, then you can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
For further details, please visit the SRA’s website: http://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor.page