Complaints Handling Procedure
DEFINITION OF A COMPLAINT
Probably the best definition of a “complaint” is “any expression of client dissatisfaction, however it is expressed”. This means that a complaint need not include the word “complain” in it, and might be presented in writing, over the telephone or in person.
All staffs approach to complaints should be positive, as they alert the firm to problems that your clients have about your service and thereby provide an opportunity for service improvement.
The complaints process should be as open as possible (easy for the client to understand and to access) so that concerns are raised at the earliest opportunity, rather than letting them become more serious.
Where one-off advice is given, it is not necessary to provide information about how or to whom a client should complain in all instances. Instead, caseworkers should be alert to expressions of dissatisfaction (however they may be made) and offer the relevant information wherever they feel that the client may not be happy with the service (including the advice given).
SOLICITOR ORGANISATIONS AND CODE OF CONDUCT CHAPTER 1
Code of Conduct 2011 Chapter 1, the “client care” rule sets out requirements relating to Client Care and complaints handling. Although the client does not need to be advised of the entire system when given one-off advice (including police station advice and court duty solicitor advice), they must at least be advised of the name of the person with whom they should raise any problems. Compliant practice would therefore include telling the client whom to approach in the event of dissatisfaction and/or providing them with a prepared letter/leaflet containing a brief explanation, and supplementing that with a more detailed written explanation if/once a file is opened and further work is done for them.
OUR COMPLAINTS POLICY
We are committed to providing a high-quality legal service to all our Clients. When something goes wrong we need you to tell us about it. This will help us improve our standards.
OUR COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE
If you have a complaint, please write to Richard Battrick at 126 Clifton Street, Roath, Cardiff. CF24 ILX, the partner responsible for Client care.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?
We will send you a letter or email within 14 days acknowledging your complaint. If it seems appropriate, we may ask you to clarify or explain any details and/or suggest a meeting at this stage.
We will record your complaint in our Central Register.
Richard Battrick will then investigate your complaint, examining the relevant file and speak with the member of staff as appropriate.
If appropriate, we will then invite you to meet Richard Battrick or speak with him over the telephone to discuss, we hope, to resolve your complaint.
Within 14 days of that discussion we will write to you to confirm what took place and any suggestions we have made or solutions that we have agreed with you.
If you would prefer not to meet, or if it is not practical or appropriate, or if we cannot arrange it within an acceptable time scale, Richard Battrick will write fully to you setting out his views on the situation and any suggestions we may have to resolve it. Again, we should be in a position to do this within 21 days of receiving your complaint.
At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, please let us know. We will then arrange for another Partner in the Firm who has not been involved in your complaint to review our position.
We will write to you again within 21 days of receiving your request for a review, setting out our final position on your complaint and explaining our reasons. If you are still not satisfied, you may contact the Legal Ombudsman, but we very much hope that this will not be the case.
Any complaint that is not satisfied may be reported to the Legal Ombudsman using the contact details below;
Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6167, Slough, SL1 0EH
Telephone 0300 555 0333
Please note that any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman has to be made no more than one year from the date of the act or omission being complained about or no more than one year from the date when you should have realised that there was cause for complaint and within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint.
ACTION AS THE RESULT OF REVIEW
Action might be directed at individuals (e.g. providing additional training in certain skills) or it might involve changes to processes and procedures (e.g. where complaints arise from what processes and procedures contain or do not contain); it might even involve considering expanding the service (e.g. where complaints arise from having to be signposted for certain advice). In extreme cases, where a complaint against a member is staff is justified, corrective action may result in a formal warning or even dismissal.
Effective and positive complaint handling is an important aspect of client care and service quality. Action following review might, therefore, also be to improve the complaints procedure or training in complaints handling, as the way in which complaints have been handled should form as much part of the review as the issues that have been their subject.
ANNUAL REVIEW OF COMPLAINTS
At a formal partners' meeting, and at least once every year, the Managing Partner will review all formal complaints with the other partners so they are aware of these complaints and any new policy arising from them can be discussed and, if necessary, implemented after that meeting. Also, at the same meeting the partners will have the opportunity of discussing any complaint made in respect of the Managing Partner, and again, any appropriate action arising from the same can be taken.