Our Complaints Policy
Occasionally mistakes will happen, and things will go wrong – and where they do, we want to resolve and put things right as quickly and effectively as possible, using any concerns or complaints as a way of improving our services. You have the right to complain should you be dissatisfied with our service, our work or our charges, and such complaints are investigated free of charge.
When we are dealing with complaints, we will always aim to be reasonable, fair, proportionate, accessible, and responsive to your needs. This Complaints Policy tells you what you can expect from us, and our Complaints Handling Procedure (below) tells you how to make a complaint. Making a complaint will not affect how we handle your case.
- We will always make you aware of how to complain, both when you first instruct us, and at the time you raise any concerns.
- If you tell us about any special needs or disabilities you may have, we will do our best to make arrangements to accommodate you.
Standards of Client Care
- We will ensure that the person handling your complaint is properly trained and equipped and that they understand what they should do to provide a good complaints handling process
- We will handle your complaint in accordance with the law, any relevant policies and guidance, and with all published service standards.
Communicating with you
- Our Complaints Handling Procedure will be clear and simple and will contain as few stages as possible.
- Your complaint will be acknowledged and dealt with promptly and you will be given clear timescales at each stage of the process.
- We will deal with your complaint more quickly than the rules require us to if there is a reason why this is desirable.
- We will communicate with you, whether in writing or on the phone, in a clear and understandable way.
Dealing with your Complaint
- We will properly investigate your complaint and objectively consider the issues and evidence involved.
- We will give you a clear and honest explanation for the decision provided based on the evidence involved.
- We will advise you of your right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman if you remain unhappy with our final decision.
- We will keep an ordered and full record of the way in which your complaint was handled, and store this separately from your matter file.
Treating you Fairly and Proportionately
- We will treat you impartially without any discrimination or prejudice.
Putting things Right
- If we admit that we have made a mistake or omitted to do something that we should have done, we will offer you our full apologies at the earliest opportunity, as well as an explanation offered about what went wrong.
- Any offer of redress we make you will be prompt and proportionate; we will always try to consider the impact of our mistake on you and recognise any upset or inconvenience we may have caused.
Reviewing our Service
- We will try to identify ways to improve the service we provide.
- Whenever possible we will tell you of any changes to our procedures and systems which were introduced as a result of your complaint.
Our Complaints Handling Procedure
This Complaints Handling Procedure tells you how we will deal with your complaint and how long it is likely to take. It also provides important information about what you can do if you are not happy with the way in which we are dealing with your complaint, or about our final decision. Our Complaints Policy (above) contains further information about what you can expect from us when you make a complaint.
Contacting us about your Complaint
In the first instance it may be helpful to contact the person who is working on your case to discuss your concerns and we will do our best to resolve any issues at that stage. If you do not feel able to discuss your concerns with them, please contact the person responsible for the overall supervision of your matter, who will be named in the client care letter we sent you at the beginning of your matter.
If you do not feel able to raise your concerns with either the fee earner or their supervisor, or if you have raised your issues with the fee earner and you are still not satisfied with the response, please contact our Client Care Director, James Marris, with the details, either in writing to G M Wilson Solicitors, 1 Crown Court, Wakefield, WF1 2SU, by email to email@example.com, or by telephone 01924 291111.
Step One – Acknowledging your Complaint
Within 2 working days of receiving your complaint, we will record it in our Central Complaints Register and open a separate file in which we will store any correspondence and other documents relating to your complaint. Within 2 working days of receipt, we will also send you a letter acknowledging your complaint.
Step Two – Investigating your Complaint
- We will then investigate your complaint. This will normally involve passing your complaint to our Client Care Director, James Marris, who will review your matter file and speak to the member of staff who acted for you.
- 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.
- Mr Marris will then invite you to a meeting to discuss and hopefully resolve your complaint. He will do this within 10 working days of sending you the acknowledgment letter.
- Mr Marris will then write to you to confirm what took place and any solutions he has agreed with you.
- If you do not want a meeting or it is not possible, Mr Marris will send you a detailed written reply to your complaint, including his suggestions for resolving the matter, within 10 working days of sending you the acknowledgment letter.
- At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, you should contact us again and we will arrange for another Partner to review the decision.
- We will write to you within 14 working days of receiving your request for a review, confirming our final position on your complaint and explaining our reasons.
Step Three – The Legal Ombudsman
If you are still not satisfied with our final decision, you can then contact the Legal Ombudsman about your complaint, provided that you fit into one of the following categories:-
- An individual.
- A business or enterprise that was a micro-enterprise (European Union definition) when it referred the complaint to the authorised person.
- A charity that had an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million when it referred the complaint to the authorised person.
- A club/association/organisation, the affairs of which are managed by its members/a committee/a committee of its members, that had an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million when it referred the complaint to the authorised person.
- A trustee of a trust that had an asset value of less than £1million when it referred the complaint to the authorised person.
- A personal representative or beneficiary of the estate of a person who, before he/she died, had not referred the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
The Legal Ombudsman will look at your complaint independently and it will not affect how we handle your case. The Legal Ombudsman service is free of charge and can investigate complaints about the legal service you have received from us.
Ordinarily, you cannot use the Legal Ombudsman unless you have first attempted to resolve your complaint using our internal Complaints Handling Procedure above, but you will be able to contact the Legal Ombudsman if:
- The complaint has not been resolved to your satisfaction within eight weeks of first making the complaint to us; or
- The Legal Ombudsman decides that there are exceptional reasons why the Legal Ombudsman should consider your complaint sooner, or without you having to use our internal Complaints Handling Procedure; or
- The Legal Ombudsman considers that your complaint cannot be resolved using our internal Complaints Handling Procedure because the relationship between you and us has broken down irretrievably.
The Legal Ombudsman expects complaints to be made to them 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.
If you wish to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, further information can be found on their website or by telephoning or writing to them. Their contact details are below:
P O Box 6806
Telephone: 0300 555 0333 (between 9am and 5pm)
Alternative complaints bodies such as ProMediate exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services, should both you and the company wish to use the scheme. The website for ProMediate is www.promediate.co.uk and there is a tab for complaints about “professionals”.
We do not agree to use Promediate. This is because we consider that the service offered by the Legal Ombudsman to be the most appropriate means of resolving any dispute. However, if you would like to make representations as to why we should use ProMediate on this occasion then you may do so.
We will not consider using ProMediate if the matter has already been dealt with by the Legal Ombudsman.
Complaining to the Solicitors Regulation Authority
For complaints that relate specifically to an alleged breach of the SRA Standard and Regulations, including the SRA Accounts Rules, you should refer the matter to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). This could be for things like general misconduct, losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic. The SRA will not investigate complaints about services provided by the Firm. They will refer such matters to the Legal Ombudsman.
If you wish to make a complaint to the SRA, further information can be found on their website or by telephoning or writing to them. Their contact details are below: