Complaints Procedure

1. GENERAL OVERVIEW

It is important to us that we provide services of the highest quality to all of our clients. We aim to ensure that any complaints that clients may have are identified and dealt with in accordance with this procedure.

We have an established procedure for dealing with complaints from clients. The procedure has been established so that we can resolve as many problems as possible within our offices and avoid having complaints and problems reported and escalated, and to preserve the goodwill of our clients, even if things have gone wrong.

It is important that those in positions of responsibility with the firm are aware of anything which may have gone wrong. For example the SRA Code of Conduct requires us to:

  • Deal with clients’ complaints promptly, fairly, openly and effectively;
  • Inform clients if we discover any act or omission which could give risk to a claim by them against us.

Our procedure also assists the Firm in identifying the cause of any problem of which the client has complained offering any appropriate redress and correcting any unsatisfactory procedures.

However this is more than professional responsibility. Being frank about such matters helps us to build the firm, by learning from mistakes or misunderstandings, improving our standards and retaining our reputation and the goodwill of our clients. This policy explains your obligations in these areas.

We expect honesty and realism from all personnel when things have gone wrong.

Such complaints must be dealt with sympathetically and quickly. Our reputation depends on this, as it is all part of our high standard of service and incorporates client care.

Clients are notified in our Client Care Letter / Terms of Business of their right to complain. If the client asks for a copy of our standard procedure, it is at this point forwarded to them in writing.

A documented review of this policy / process will take place annually to verify its effective operation across our Firm.

2. COMPLAINTS

Our Complaints procedure is below. It explains to clients how we will handle their concerns if they feel something has gone wrong. Whenever a client complaints about our service, or about the bill, we must use that procedure. Even if a complaint is malicious or misconceived we must respond courteously and handle it effectively.

3. WHAT IS A COMPLAINT?

A report by a client that their expectations of what they consider to be a good service have not been met.
Note that the definition of “complaint” in the SRA Code of Conduct is “an oral or written expression of dissatisfaction which alleges that the complainant has suffered or may suffer financial loss, distress, inconvenience or other detriment”. If you are not sure if a comment from a client amounts to a complaint, ask if they wish the matter to be handled under our complaints procedure. Accordingly, if a complaint is made by or behalf of a client, notify our Client Care Partner. He will then handle the matter, starting with sending the client a copy of our Complaints Procedure, and finishing with sending the client another copy of the information in our Complaints Procedure.

4. PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS

A complaint can also be made by a prospective client if we have:

  • Unreasonably refused a service to a complainant;
  • Persistently or unreasonably offered a service that the complainant does not want.

The following section should be sent to the client(s) and prospective clients, upon request or when the client / prospective client has indicated a dissatisfaction in the service we have/ may be providing to them.

5. CLIENT’S SECTION

It is important to us that we provide services of the highest quality to all of our clients. We aim to ensure that any complaints that clients may have are identified and dealt with in accordance with this procedure.

What is a complaint?

A report by a client that their expectations of what they consider to be a good service have not been met.

Prospective Clients

A complaint can also be made by a prospective client if the Firm has:

  • Unreasonably refused a service to a complainant
  • Persistently or unreasonably offered a service that the complainant does not want.
Making a complaint

You can register the complaint with the person dealing with your matter or the Client Care Partner directly. The Client Care Partner, Darrell Webb is responsible for ensuring that complaints are handled effectively and in accordance with this procedure. The Deputy Client Care Partner is Craig Kemsley, who will ensure that complaints are handled effectively in accordance with this procedure in the event that you are unable to direct your concerns to the Client Care Partner.

The contact details for both the Client Care Partner and Deputy are:
Client Care Partner, Darrell Webb: dw@calibrate-law.com
Deputy Client Care Partner, Craig Kemsley: ck@calibrate-law.com

You may register your complaint by post:

5 Aldermanbury Square, London, EC2V 7HR

This procedure will also apply to prospective clients who we have refused to provide a service to or persistently or unreasonably offered an unwanted service to but only if the complainant has evidence to show that we did not have reasonable grounds to do so.

The Client Care Partner, keeps an electronic register of all complaints. The register includes all the required details and the register is signed off when the complaint has been finalised.

The Client Care Partner reviews the complaints data and it also forms part of the Annual Risk Review. The complaints are reviewed to determine if there are any training requirements, changes in systems and processes which are required.

Investigating the complaint
  • We will acknowledge the complaint within seven days.
  • We will conduct a full investigation and an independent review of the matter.
  • We aim to respond to the complaint in full within 28 days. However, if the complaint is of a more complex nature we will require more time, but we will let the complainant know when they will receive a full response.
  • We will reply to the complainant, usually in writing to tell him/her of our views on the complaint and how we propose to resolve it, hopefully to the complainant’s satisfaction – including appropriate redress – this could include a reduction in fees if appropriate, compensation or a gesture of goodwill.
  • If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome, or the way the complaint has been handled, the complainant may write to either Darrell Webb or Craig Kemsley (as an alternative contact from the person who investigated the complainant’s initial concerns) and will make such further investigations as are necessary.
  • The Client Care Partner/ Deputy will inform the complainant of the conclusions and any alternative proposals to resolve the complaint, usually within 28 days of this being referred to him/her.
  • If still unresolved at this stage, the complainant may take their complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. The complainant will have to bring their complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within 6 months of receiving a final response from us about the complaint and 6 years from the date of the act or omission giving rise to the complaint or alternatively 3 years from the date the complainant should reasonably have known there are grounds for complaint (if the act/omission took place before 6 October 2010 or was more than 6 years ago).
  • We will record and report centrally all complaints received from clients.
  • We will identify the cause of any problems of which the client has complained offering appropriate redress and correcting any unsatisfactory procedures.
Legal Ombudsman

The Legal Ombudsman is an independent and impartial complains handling body established by the Legal Services Act 2007 to deal with complaints against solicitors.

The Legal Ombudsman may:

  • Investigate the quality of professional service supplied by a solicitor to a client.
  • Investigate allegations that a solicitor has breached rules of professional conduct.
  • Investigate allegations that a solicitor has unreasonably refused to supply a professional service to a prospective client.
  • Investigate allegations that a solicitor has persistently or unreasonably offered a professional service that the client does not want.

Before it will consider a complaint the Legal Ombudsman generally requires that the Firm’s internal Complaints Procedure has been exhausted. If the Legal Ombudsman is satisfied that the Firm’s proposals for resolving a complaint are reasonable, it may decline to investigate further.

The Legal Ombudsman’s contact details:

Address: PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ;
Telephone: 0300 555 0333;
Website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk;
Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk

It should be noted that alternative complaints bodies such as Ombudsman Services exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both the complainant and the firm wish to use such as scheme. However, the Firm does not agree to use this scheme on the basis that the Legal Ombudsman is an independent and impartial body that can consider a complaint should the complainant wish to raise their concerns with them.

Online Dispute Resolution

Please also see link below to the European Commission’s website which provides a platform for online dispute resolution which can assist in resolving disputes. http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr

The Solicitors Regulation Authority

The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help complainants if they are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing client money or treating clients unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.

You can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

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