1 - DEFINITION OF A COMPLAINT
As required by of The Solicitors’ Code of Conduct 2011, Morgan Has Solicitors have a procedure for dealing with complaints from clients so that we can resolve as many as possible within the firm and preserve the goodwill of the clients, even if things have gone wrong.
A “formal” complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction referred to the fee earner or to the Director. There may be instances where a client complains to a fee earner that it has taken a little while to return a telephone call. This can be dealt with by way of an apology and this level of dissatisfaction is not considered a formal complaint. A complaint of a more serious nature, for example, if a client complains that a fee earner never returns a call, this form of complaint is registered and is dealt with as follows.
2 - COMPLAINTS HANDLING PROCEDURE
The procedure that follows will ensure that each fee earner:
1. Ensures that the client knows the name and status of the fee earner responsible for the day to day conduct of the matter and the Director responsible for its overall supervision. (This will be clearly set out in the firms client care letter)
2. Ensures that the client knows who to approach in the event of any problem with the service provided. (This will be clearly set out in the firms client care letter)
3. Ensures that the client is at all relevant times given any appropriate information including a full copy of the written complaints procedure if requested and updated information on how complaints are proceeding and the timescales involved.
4. When a “formal” complaint is received by the firm the Director must ensure that the matter is recorded in the central register of complaints held by the firm, the complaint having been recorded on the firms standard complaints form. The register will be held by the Director and will be reviewed annually by them to establish any trends and thereby improve the service provided
Complaint will be dealt with as follows:
1. the Complaints Handler will immediately acknowledge the complaint and advise the complainant that the matter will be investigated and a response sent to the client within fourteen days upon the completition of the firms complaints form;
2. the fee earner will log the complaint in the firms central register of complaints and will make sure all relevant correspondence regarding the particular complaint is stored in the central register;
3. the fee earner will consider the nature of the complaint and examine the file with the Complaints Handler and any other necessary documents and if appropriate discuss the matter with the Director;
4. if necessary, the fee earner will seek further details from the complainant, either in writing or by interview;
5. the fee earner will on completion of the investigation write to the complainant advising them of the outcome of the investigation;
6. if the investigation takes longer than anticipated, the fee earner will write advising on the progress of the investigation;
7. if the client is not satisfied, then the Directors will decide how to respond to the complaint
The whole object of the complaints procedure is to ensure that the client:
1. is satisfied that the complaint has been dealt with seriously;
2. gets a prompt response;
3. receives an assurance that the matter is being reviewed;
4. is notified as soon as possible of the outcome;
5. is not lost to the firm, and even though the fee earner may not agree that the complaint has any validity, the response from the firm may be to agree with some elements of the complaint and to assure the client that the effort will be made to remedy the problem;
6. fee earners must understand that it is not intended to undermine their position. A certain amount of criticism has to be accepted; in return we hope to gain customer satisfaction
3 - REMEDIES OPEN TO THE FIRM
The fee earner considering the complaint will consider what response should be given and what remedies are appropriate.
If the complaint is considered invalid or unjustified, the fee earner will ensure that the client is given sufficient information to justify the rejection of the complaint.
If a complaint is upheld, the fee earner will consider the following remedies and advise the client:
1. apology from the firm and an assurance that the matter will not happen again;
2. immediate action to resolve the nature of the complaint;
3. a reduction in the bill;
4. abatement of the bill in total;
5. a change in fee earner;
6. compensation where appropriate;
7. notification to the client of their right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman who are contatable at Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9W and by telephone on 0300 555 0333.
8. notification to the client of their right to see another solicitor and obtain advice as to whether the firm has been negligent.
Where it becomes clear that the complaint has arisen as a result of unsatisfactory procedure(s), the fee earner will ensure that they are reviewed and corrective action taken to ensure that problems do not recur.
After a complaint, hopefully the client will be satisfied and the fee earner will continue with the file. In some circumstances, if the solicitor / client relationship has broken down completely, it may be better for another fee earner to take over the file. If a fee earner does continue with a file, every effort must be made to repair any damage in the relationship with the client.