Internal management of Complaints
We are committed to providing a high quality legal service and to dealing with all our clients fairly. However sometimes we may not get it right so if something has gone wrong, including in relation to the bill, we ask that clients tell us.
The following describes how we handle complaints and ensure we meet our regulatory obligations.
Fundamentally, it is vital that we handle complaints promptly, fairly, openly and effectively.
Information to clients
We must inform clients in writing at the outset of a matter of:
their right to complain (including about a bill)
how complaints can be made
their right to complain to the Legal Ombudsmen (LeO), the time frame for doing so and full details of how to contact the LeO
the circumstances in which they may be liable to pay interest on an unpaid bill
This is covered within the client letter and the terms of business.
All complaints are handled by Saif. The details of the complaint will be entered into the complaints register.
Throughout the process of the complaint Saif will also document:
any investigative steps taken
minutes of any meetings internally and/or with the complainant
references to any documents relied on for resolving the complaint (eg letters, attendance notes, etc)
Saif will consider whether a complaint involves matters that need to be notified externally, eg to our professional indemnity insurers if the complaint involves negligence.
Saif will acknowledge complaints in writing to the complainant within 5 working days, enclosing a copy of our Client-facing complaints policy (shown above).
Our acknowledgement letter will contain:
a statement of our understanding of the complaint
if appropriate, a request for further information that we need in order to consider the complaint, and a time frame for providing that information
contact details for Saif
information on when we will next be in contact with the complainant
The client will also be invited attend a meeting should the so wish where they will be able to outline their concerns face to face.
Saif will consider each complaint objectively.
This stage involves three steps:
1. Itemising the issues in order to understand the complaint fully.
2. Considering the complexity and seriousness of the complaint.
3. Identifying any remedies sought by the complainant and considering the remedies available and/or appropriate.
Any action will depend on the conclusions drawn from the preliminary assessment.
Generally Saif will:
investigate the complaint
obtain feedback from relevant people
provide a response to the complainant
The level and extent of the investigations will be proportionate to the seriousness of the complaint. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, Saif will review the relevant matter file as a first step.
Both clients and others involved in the complaint will be given the opportunity to provide their account of the situation and respond to points raised.
Saif will respond to the complainant promptly with any decision or proposed action. We will aim to do this within 10 working days of receiving the full details of the complaint from the client. If there is a delay he will write to the complainant to explain the reasons.
Saif’s response will:
re-state the details of the complaint
outline the investigations undertaken
state our findings resulting from the investigations
offer a remedy or explain why we do not think it is appropriate to do so
explain how to accept the proposed remedy
inform the client of their right to complain to the LeO if they remain unsatisfied, the time frame for doing so and full details of how to contact the LeO
The complainant’s decision will be recorded
Request for a review
The client will be informed of their right to ask for a review if they are not happy with the outcome of our initial review.
In this case the matter reviewed by Saif. He will follow a similar process to that outlined in 2.6 above. He will also take into account any additional information that may be provided by the client or by those dealing with the matter originally.
Saif will respond to the client with the outcomes of his review within 10 working days of the review request. The client will again be reminded of their right to refer the matter to the LeO should they so wish.
We have eight weeks to resolve a complaint, after which the complainant may refer their complaint to the LeO for resolution.
As with all client matters we will treat complaints, and any information received during the course of dealing with complaints, with utmost confidentiality.
Our complaints handling procedure is sensitive to individual differences and needs of our clients.