Client Complaints Policy
We are committed to providing a high quality legal service and to dealing with all our clients fairly. We acknowledge that we may not always get it right, so if something has gone wrong, including in relation to the bill, we need you to tell us. Our aim will be to resolve the complaint as quickly and easily as possible.
How do I make a complaint?
Where possible, you should, first raise the issue with the person responsible for your matter, or failing this with the Head of Department and we will do our best to resolve any issues. If that is unsuccessful or inappropriate, then you can contact our Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP) who has responsibility for client care. Her contact details are: Mrs J Penfold, Hart Reade LLP, 104 South Street, Eastbourne, BN21 4LW, telephone: 01323 727321, email email@example.com. If, however, your complaint relates to Mrs Penfold (other than in her role as COLP), please address your complaint to Mr A Pluck, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your complaint should, if possible, be set out in writing and should be raised as soon as possible after the problem has arisen.
To help us to understand your complaint, and in order that we do not miss anything, please tell us:
- your full name and contact details
- what you think we have got wrong
- what you hope to achieve as a result of your complaint, and
- your file reference number (if you have it)
If you require any help in making your complaint we will try to help you.
How will you deal with my complaint?
We will record your complaint in our Central Register (for monitoring and management information purposes).
We will write to you within five working days acknowledging your complaint, enclosing a copy of this complaints policy.
We will investigate your complaint. This will usually involve:
- reviewing your complaint;
- reviewing your file(s) and other relevant documents; and
- speaking with the person who dealt with your matter.
We may also need to ask you for further information or documents. If so, we will ask you to provide the information within a specific period of time.
We may also, if appropriate, invite you to a meeting to discuss your complaint. You do not have to attend if you do not wish to or if you are unable to. We will be happy to discuss the matter with you on the telephone.
We will write to you at the end of our investigation to tell you what we have done and what we propose to do to resolve your complaint. We will aim to do this within 28 days of the date of our letter of acknowledgement.
What if I am not satisfied with the outcome?
If you are unhappy with the outcome of our complaints handling procedure please first let us know and we will review the matter further.
If you are still unhappy you can ask The Legal Ombudsman to look into your complaint. They will look at your complaint independently and it will not affect how we handle your matter. You can contact The Legal Ombudsman:
- by post at PO Box 6167, Slough, SL1 0EH
- by telephone: 0300 555 0333, or
- by email: email@example.com
- visit www.legalombudsman.org.uk
Before accepting a complaint for investigation, The Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have, then you must take your complaint to The Legal Ombudsman within one year of the date of the act or omission about which you are concerned or within one year of you realising there was a concern. You must also refer your concerns to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of our final response to you.
You may complain to The Legal Ombudsman if you are an individual, a business with fewer than 10 employees and turnover or assets not exceeding a certain threshold, a charity or trust with a net income of less than £1m, or if you fall within certain other categories (you can find out more from The Legal Ombudsman).
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) bodies exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and Hart Reade LLP wish to use such a scheme e.g. Ombudsman Services. We have, however, chosen not to adopt an ADR process. If, therefore, you wish to complain further, you should contact The Legal Ombudsman.
If we are unable to resolve your complaint, and it relates to a contract we entered into online or by other electronic means, you may also be able to submit your complaint to an approved alternative dispute resolution provider in the UK via the EU ‘ODR platform’.
- The ODR platform is an interactive website offering a single point of entry for disputes between consumers and traders relating to online contracts. The ODR platform is available to consumer clients only, i.e. where you have instructed us for purposes outside your trade, business craft or profession.
- The website address for the ODR platform is http://ec.europa.eu/odr
The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help you if you are concerned about our professional conduct. You can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority by visiting their website https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/
What will it cost?
We will not charge you for handling your complaint.
Your complaint may be about our bill although you may also have a right to object to our bill by applying to the court for an assessment of it under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974, but costs may apply. However, it is important to say that if all or part of our bill remains unpaid, we may be entitled to charge interest in the manner set out in our Terms of Business. A contested bill may also be referred to The Legal Ombudsman (subject to clause 14 above).
The Legal Ombudsman service is free of charge.
The Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP) is responsible for this policy.
Review of our complaints policy
We will review our Complaints policy regularly, at least annually. We will provide information and/or training to staff on any changes we make.
Hart Reade LLP