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The legal profession, like all providers of services to the public, is extremely conscious of the need to provide consistently high service levels to its clients. In an increasingly competitive market for the provision of legal services, failure to do this can undermine a firm's reputation with both its current and potential future clients, and the profession's reputation with the public at large.
For this reason the profession takes complaint handling very seriously. Since September 1999 it has been a requirement of the Solicitors Practice Rules [Rule 15] for every firm of solicitors to have and to follow a documented procedure for handling client complaints, and failure to do this is in itself a disciplinary offence.
Client Care Letter
As part of this procedure each firm should, on taking instructions from you to act on your behalf, write to you to, amongst other things:-
- confirm the terms of your instructions, to allow you to clarify any misunderstanding before any work commences;
- to set out which member of the firm will be handling your file;
- to set out the terms of charging for the work done, reporting on progress of overall costs, and terms of payment;
- to give the name of the firm's Client Care Partner to whom any unresolved concerns or complaints may be referred.
Grounds for complaint
Whilst we hope very much that the majority of clients will receive excellent service from their solicitor, there may be occasion when you feel concerned about some aspect of the way your solicitor is handling your file, be it poor communication by telephone or letter, failure to keep you up to date on progress and costs, etc. In many instances merely letting your solicitor know informally of your concern will allow him/her to resolve it immediately to your satisfaction. It is important that you let your solicitor know of any concerns which you have as soon as you begin to feel them, rather than letting things build up to more significant proportions before acting.
Please note that you cannot complain about the conduct of someone else's solicitor. Under English law each party's solicitor is required to act in their own client's best interests, and their actions on behalf of their own client may not be to the other party's liking; however, providing that the solicitor acts legally and ethically this is regarded as part of the cut and thrust of the system. If one party's solicitor oversteps the mark ethically or legally then it is up to the other party's solicitor to take the matter up with the relevant disciplinary body, not you as client.
Making a Complaint against your legal representative
The handling of complaints about solicitors has now passed to the Legal Ombudsman, instead of lcs Legal Complaints Service.
To complain about your solicitor please contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333.
To complain about a solicitor that has worked for someone else then please contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority on 0870 606 2555.
Looking to instruct a solicitor, please use the Find a solicitor
If you are a solicitor and would like advice and support on handling complaints please contact the Law Society.
Sometimes, complaints are made on behalf of people who have impaired mental capacity. (Impaired mental capacity means that someone cannot make a decision because of his or her mental state or is not able to communicate that decision, or a combination of the two.) If you make a complaint and have a court of protection order or an enduring power of attorney, we will deal with the complaint as if it were made by the client. If you do not make the complaint under either a protection order or power of attorney, we may not be able to deal with it in this way. In these circumstances, we may need to carry out some enquiries before we can make any decision to investigate the complaint. If we decide not to investigate, we will tell you. If the complaint is upheld after an investigation, the client will receive any compensation or other award