We set ourselves high standards and are committed to providing a high quality legal service to all our clients. When something goes wrong, we want you to tell us about it. This will help us to address your concerns, put things right as far as possible, and improve our standards.
Responding to concerns and complaints
Problems can arise in any working relationship. Most of these can be resolved quickly and informally without the need for input from anyone else in the firm. We recognise that many people are reluctant to make a formal complaint, but still want a clear response to their concerns so they know where they stand.
If you have any concerns about the way your case is being handled, please contact the solicitor with whom you normally deal with to let them know.
They will try to address your concerns and, if necessary, seek guidance from a senior member of their department. The solicitor you normally deal with will then speak to you about what can be done to resolve the problem and also confirm this in a letter or email to you.
Informal investigation and resolution
In the event that you are not be able to resolve your concern with the solicitor handling your case, then the Head of Department or another partner in the department, will review your complaint and provide you with a written response.
Where a complaint is made regarding a Head of Department, the complaint will automatically be escalated to a Complaints Partner under our formal investigation procedure of this policy (please see below).
Under our informal investigation procedure, our aim is to have a conversation with you within a week of your raising your concerns and to send you the follow up letter or email within two weeks of that conversation.
If more time is needed (for example, because the Head of Department or partner needs to seek information from you or someone else in order to respond), the Head of Department or partner will write and let you know.
Bindmans LLP does not charge for time spent investigating complaints.
What do we mean by a ‘formal complaint investigation’?
We recognise, however, that some concerns cannot be resolved informally as described above. In these circumstances, we will arrange for a formal complaint investigation by one of the firm’s partners. This will either be a partner from another team in the firm or, where more appropriate (for instance, where the complaint can be more effectively and swiftly dealt with), by a partner in the team that is handling your case.
Once you have told us you want such an investigation, the procedure we will follow is as follows:
Our aim is to send you a letter acknowledging your complaint within three working days of receiving the details. This initial letter will usually come from the solicitor handling your case.
Investigation: Preliminary stage
We will then investigate your complaint. This will normally involve passing your complaint to the relevant partner who deals with complaint. They will review your case file and speak to the person handling your case, and other members of staff if appropriate.
They will then write to you – normally within a week:
- Summarising their understanding of what your complaint is about and ask you to comment if they have misunderstood it or left anything out
- If there seems to be a clear and straightforward solution to your complaint that can be agreed with the solicitor handling your case they will ask you whether early resolution of your complaint in this way would be acceptable
- They will identify any matters that, on the face of the complaint, cannot be investigated under our procedure and, if there are, indicate how these might be resolved
- They will ask what remedy you are seeking (if that is not already clear)
- They will give an estimated time scale for their investigation
If the complaints partner has misunderstood your complaint or left anything out, you should let them know within a week of receiving their letter. It will also be helpful if you can let the complaints partner have the details of any remedy you are seeking within the same timescale.
Preliminary view and considering your comments
If your complaint is straightforward, the complaint partner will send you a further letter with their preliminary view (see below) within a further three weeks. If your complaint is particularly complex and may need more time to investigate, the complaints partner will say so and estimate how much is likely to be needed. If this estimate changes while your complaint is being investigated, the complaints partner will let you know.
Once the complaint partner has reached their preliminary view, they will seek the comments of the solicitor handling your case and then write to you setting this out and giving you the opportunity to comment within a reasonable time scale, normally 7 to 14 days. If there are particular reasons why your views cannot fairly be taken into account in this way, or other special circumstances, the complaint partner will arrange to speak to you.
Determining your complaint
Once you have had the opportunity to respond to the complaint partner’s preliminary view, they will conclude their investigation and write to you in detail explaining whether and, if so, in what respects the complaint is upheld and what, if anything, they recommend the firm does about it. Any recommendations made will be reviewed by other partners within the firm and you will be sent a final response if and when this happens.
Where a complaint is about professional judgment or alleges negligence, the complaint partner will take into account the conclusions reached at the informal investigation stage by any senior member of the department on these matters and may conclude there is no basis to reach a different view.
You will not be charged for the time spent in investigating your complaint.
Taking matters further
If you are still not satisfied, you can contact the Legal Ombudsman, Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6167, Slough, SL1 0EH about your complaint. The Legal Ombudsman expects complaints to be made to them within a year of the date of the act or omission about which you are concerned, or, within a year of you realising there was a concern. You must also submit your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint. For more information, contact the Legal Ombudsman (0300 555 0333 or refer to www.legalombudsman.org.uk).
You may also contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority (‘SRA’) if you have any concerns about a solicitor, or, the firm. Visit the SRA’s website to see how you can raise your concerns with them (https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor/).
What happens if I have lost all confidence in my solicitor?
Our experience is that most concerns and complaint can be resolved at a very early stage. We will do our very best to resolve your concerns in this way, or by completing an investigation.
In a few, exceptional cases clients may feel that, whatever the outcome of an investigation, their working relationship with their solicitor is irreparably damaged and they can have no confidence in their case being handled effectively by that person in future. If you feel that way, please let the complaint partner know and they, or the head of the department concerned, will respond separately on this specific issue.
If you have any questions about this complaint policy, our Compliance Officer can be contacted at the following address: