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Whickham - Monday to Friday 9am-5pm
Cramlington - Monday to Friday 9am-5pm
24/7 Helpline - 365 Days

Complaints Procedure

New Clients Complaints Procedure

We hope that you will never have reason to complain about our service to you or a bill of costs that we send to you.  However, if something does go wrong or the bill appears to be incorrect, please bring it to our attention as soon as you can. We will try to resolve the matter fairly and quickly. We will apologise if need be and do our best to offer a practical solution. The firm’s complaints partner is Helen Holmes who is responsible for this procedure.

There is a body called the Legal Ombudsman, an independent body that handles complaints about legal services. Its details are:

Visit: www.legalombudsman.org.uk
Call: 0300 555 0333 between 9.00 to 17.00.
Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk
Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ

The Legal Ombudsman has produced three helpful booklets to guide you if you have a complaint, you can find them on the Legal Ombudsman’s website. They are called Here to Help, How to Complain to your Service Provider and Our Approach to Putting Things Right.

You can ask the Legal Ombudsman to become involved at the end of our internal complaints procedure if you are unhappy with the outcome. The Legal Ombudsman has a helpline if you need to speak to them about how to make a complaint.  Calls are charged at a local rate and will be recorded. There is no charge for the Ombudsman’s services.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) can help you if you are concerned about our behaviour and that it may be in breach of the SRA’s Code of Conduct. You can find information on how and when to raise a concern with the SRA on the SRA website.


A Preliminary Point

The relationship with your lawyer is built on trust and openness.  You should be able to talk to your lawyer frankly about all sorts of things so that some complaints (and these are likely to be minor issues) might lend themselves to be resolved by a simple phone call with your lawyer. However, if you are not comfortable speaking to your lawyer about the problem then speak to either their supervisor or Helen Holmes.  If the issues arise in respect of Helen Holmes then you can talk to one of the alternative fee earners within the office in the alternative.


How do I complain?

We much prefer that substantial or complicated complaints are dealt with in writing – we do not have any set forms that we use for this purpose.


How do I complain to?

Our system is that, wherever possible, complaints are resolved within the department handling your case.  You should look at the “Client Care” letter that you were sent at the start of your case.  It will name the person in the firm to whom you should address your complaint.  If your case is being handled by a solicitor who is not a partner, then the complaint should be made to the partner that oversees your case.  However, if your case is being run by a partner, the head of that department will deal with it.  If the case is being run by a head of department another partner will be named in your letter to deal with your complaint.

Although you should know the name of the person dealing with your case, the reference in the top right-hand corner of our letters will tell you the name of the fee-earner who deals with your case (the first initials).

You will be informed in writing by the lawyer having conduct of your matter if there is a change of person to whom any problem with service should be addressed.

The person dealing with your complaint will inform Helen Holmes that a complaint has been made for our complaints file and so that he can monitor the progress of the complaint.

We hope that this simple procedure will deal with your concerns, however, if it does not you should write to Helen Holmes.


What will happen next?

  1. Upon receipt of your complaint, we will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three days of receiving it, enclosing a copy of this procedure.

  2. We will then investigate your complaint. This will normally involve passing your complaint to Helen Holmes or an alternative Solicitor if appropriate who will review your matter file and speak to the member of staff who acted for you.

  3. Helen Holmes will then write to you with her findings within 21 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter. However, if the complaint is complicated further time may be needed. If so, Helen Holmes will write and tell you and set another time limit.

  4. If you do not want a meeting or it is not possible, Helen Holmes will send you a detailed written reply to your complaint, including her suggestions for resolving the matter.

  5. Within three days of any meeting, Helen Holmes will write to you to confirm what took place and any solutions he has agreed with you.

  6. At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, you should contact us again and we will arrange for another lawyer unconnected with the matter at the firm to review his decision. In some cases, an appropriate alternative at this stage might be mediation to review the decision.

  7. We will write to you within 14 days of receiving your request for a review, confirming our final position on your complaint, and explaining our reasons.

  8. If you are still not satisfied, you can contact:

    Legal Ombudsman
    PO Box 6806
    Wolverhampton
    WV1 9WJ

    about your complaint. Any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of the date of our final written response on your complaint but for further information, you should email the Legal Ombudsman or call 0300 555 0333.


Legal Ombudsman’s time limits

Please see the Ombudsman’s website.

The Ombudsman will allow us a period of eight weeks to resolve your complaint. The Ombudsman asks that you come to it as soon as you can and within six months of your last contact with us.

Ordinarily, you must make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within a year of the matter giving rise to the complaint or a year from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint without taking advice from a third party, whichever is later. The Legal Ombudsman can increase any time limit in exceptional circumstances eg if there is a serious illness.

There are special rules about your right to apply for a remuneration certificate. You have either one month from the date of the bill to apply in writing where the information appears on the back of our bill, or where you have not been told of your right to apply for a certificate, three months from the date of the bill.

If you have a complaint about any of the people that we employ who are not solicitors then you should write to Helen Holmes.