Complaints Procedure

We are committed to providing a high-quality legal service to our clients. When something goes wrong, we need you to tell us about it. This will help us to sort out any mistakes or misunderstandings, and to improve our standards.

We operate an internal complaints handling procedure as required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and the Legal Aid Agency.

The firm is confident in the quality of its service.  But experience reveals that occasionally things can go wrong.  Misunderstandings, inadequate communication and unmet expectations can emerge.  Typically these are easily overcome, so if cause for concern arises we want to know.  Indeed the sooner we know the sooner the issue can be addressed. 

We are committed to dealing with complaints promptly, fairly and effectively.  While the primary focus should be upon ‘complaint avoidance’, if concern arises ‘informal resolution’ is in the best interests of clients, the Partnership and the profession.

Please be assured that your complaint will be dealt with promptly, fairly and free of charge.

How to complain

This complaints procedure envisages 3 levels of complaint;

(i)         Informal resolution.

(ii)        Formal complaint.

(iii)       Appeal.  To the Legal Ombudsman.

We understand that the decision to raise a formal complaint about a professional advisor can be a difficult one.  But in truth the early identification of a concern permits a speedy resolution.  Delay can erode the solicitor client relationship, allow resentment, an entrenched position and make it more difficult to put matters right.  Accordingly we encourage closure by informal resolution at level (i).

  • Informal Resolution: Simply notify your caseworker, or supervisor, of your concern.  You may do so in writing or orally.  We are keen to promote a resolution informally and quickly.  Accordingly all the firm’s personnel are required to facilitate an informal resolution.

Ordinarily an informal chat should suffice to resolve an issue or concern. If it does not, you can formalise your complaint or speak to someone other than the person responsible for your matter. Our Complaints Manager, Sulma Mansuri, can record everything you are unhappy about and recommend the best solution for you. You can contact Sulma Mansuri at [email protected] or on 01623 658 556.

  • Formal Complaint:  If a concern is unresolved by informal resolution, you may start our formal complaints procedure by raising your complaint with the Complaints Manager, Sulma Mansuri.  You should do this in writing using the contact details above.  Mark your letter “Formal Complaint”, and set out both the detail of your complaint and how you would like it resolved.  Only a letter of formal complaint will trigger our internal complaints handling procedure.

How a formal complaint is handled

What we need to know

To deal with your complaint correctly, it would be helpful when contacting us if you could provide the following information:

  • Your name, contact details and preferred contact method
  • File reference number
  • Details of your concerns
  • How you would like us to put things right.

What will happen next?

All formal complaints are considered by the Complaints Manager Sulma Mansuri. Any complaints about Sulma Mansuri will be considered by one of the firm’s partners.

  1. If you telephone us, we will endeavour to resolve the issue in that call.
  2. Upon receipt of a written formal complaint the Complaints Manager will ;

(i)         Provide an acknowledgement of the complaint in writing,

(ii)        Make and maintain a record in a central register of complaints.

(iii)       Confirm that the formal complaints procedure has been engaged.

  • The complaint will be fully investigated within 6 weeks of the acknowledgment letter being sent out.  The nature of the investigation will depend upon the circumstances and the actual complaint but will typically include;
    • Consideration of the complaint, a request for more detailed information, or a personal meeting.
    • Analysis of the case file and all electronic or monetary records.
    • Direct enquiry of caseworkers and supervisors.
    • Other enquiries, internally or externally, sufficient to permit an understanding of the issue(s).
  • Upon identification of any inadequate professional service, error or misunderstanding steps will be taken to put matters right and resolve any shortcomings to the satisfaction of the client.  The way forward, agreed actions and timeframes will be notified to the client/complainant.
  • The Complaints Manager will issue a written final report in response to the complaint.
  • The Complaints Manager’s final report will be marked to identify it as such, and denote the end of the firm’s complaints procedure.
  • The firm’s central register of complaints is subject to periodic review and trend analysis.  In that way lessons can be learned to afford ongoing improvements to quality of services by appropriate revision of the Partnership’s procedures and training programmes.
  • Appeal:  If your formal complaint is not resolved by the Complaints Manager you may raise an external complaint by appealing to the Legal Ombudsman. 

What to do if we cannot resolve your complaint

  1. If you have exhausted our internal escalation process yet remain dissatisfied, or a period of eight weeks has expired since we acknowledged your complaint without our final response being received, you are entitled to refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman will look at the complaint independently and any investigation by them will not affect how we handle your case.
  2. Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check:
  3. you have tried to resolve the complaint with us in the first instance and
  4. you have suffered significant financial loss, distress, inconvenience or detriment, which deems it proportionate for them to investigate

We will always be happy to discuss your issues further, prior to you going down this route, if you wish to do so.

  1. For complaints about our service, including billing issues, you may contact the Legal Ombudsman via one of the methods below:
  2. Phone: 0300 5550333
  3. Email: [email protected]
  4. Post: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6167, Slough. SL1 0EH
  1. Any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of the date of our final written response to your complaint. You should also be aware that the Ombudsman will consider your complaint if you refer it on to them within either of the following:
  2. one year from the date of the act or omission being complained about OR
  3. one year from the date when you should reasonably have known that there was cause for complaint.

The Ombudsman has discretion to extend the one year time limit for specific customers if, on the evidence, it is fair and reasonable to do so.

  • Note that the Legal Ombudsman service cannot be used by businesses or most other organisations, unless they are below certain size limits. Further details are available from the Legal Ombudsman’s website.
  • It is worth considering, whilst it is open to you to submit a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, they apply strict criteria to determine whether they will ultimately accept a complaint for a full investigation. They have the discretion to dismiss or discontinue all or part of a complaint if they believe:
  1. it does not have any reasonable prospects of success.
  2. you have not suffered (and are unlikely to suffer) significant financial loss, distress, inconvenience or detriment.
  3. it is frivolous, vexatious, lacks merit or where there is a compelling reason not to accept it.
  4. the likely impact, size, complexity, scope, volume of evidence or your conduct render it disproportionate/unreasonable/impossible for the complaint to be investigated.
  5. you have previously complained about the same issue to them, unless you provide material evidence that is likely to affect the outcome which only became available to you after you submitted the original complaint.
  6. there has been undue delay in the complaint being raised.

              Also note:

  1. If, during the course of an ongoing investigation by the Ombudsman, a revised/increased offer is made by us which is deemed to be fair and reasonable redress and you decide to reject that offer, the Ombudsman has the discretion to dismiss or discontinue all or part of your complaint.
  2. If you have already accepted an offer to settle your complaint made by us during our internal complaint handling process, which is deemed to be fair and reasonable redress, unless there has been some significant intervening act, you will not be able to have that agreement overturned in the hope of securing a preferential outcome by pursuing your complaint via the Ombudsman.

  For more information on the Legal Ombudsman’s rules and requirements, please see their Scheme Rules dated April 2023.                                               

What to do if you are unhappy with our behaviour

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (‘SRA’) can help if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic. Visit the ‘Reporting an individual or firm’ page of their website to see how you can raise your concerns with the SRA.

Termination of Retainer

This is an important consideration. The principles of good conduct and Outcome Focused Regulation afford guidance.  It must be recognised that a client can end a solicitor’s retainer at any time and for any reason.  But a solicitor may only end the relationship with a client if there is good reason and upon reasonable notice.  But some practical facets are set out below.

  1. If a client simply wishes to terminate a retainer it is not necessary to engage the complaints handling procedure. 
    1. A client who simply wishes to complain is not required to terminate the solicitors retainer.
    1. In certain extreme circumstances a complaint may result in the Partnership being unable to continue to act for a client, eg. breakdown in confidence between solicitor and client or the solicitor  is unable to obtain proper instructions. 
    1. Legally aided clients wishing to terminate a solicitor’s retainer or transfer to a new solicitor must first obtain approval from the Court and/or the Legal Aid Agency.  These provisions are designed to protect the public purse and so the taxpayer.

Challenging our costs

In addition to this complaints handling procedure a client may be entitled to object to a bill by applying to the Court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.  Typically this right exists when a client is personally liable to pay a bill, a legal aid contribution or is affected by the Statutory Charge.

If all or part of a disputed unpaid bill is determined to be valid the firm is entitled to charge interest.  This is governed by our terms of engagement.  Accordingly every effort should be made to minimise additional charges by resolving disputed bills swiftly.

 What to do if your complaint relates to an insurance policy

If your unresolved complaint relates to an insurance policy covering your case, you may contact the Financial Ombudsman Service:

  • Phone: 0800 023 4567
  • Online complaint forms available via their website
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Post: Financial Ombudsman Service, Exchange Tower. Harbour Exchange. London. E14 9SR.

What to do if your complaint remains unresolved

If a complaint cannot be resolved, you may also be able to ask for it to be referred to a process of alternative dispute resolution using a certified provider. We are not required to agree to such a request. In any case this is not available to businesses, only consumers. We will give you more information about that right if it becomes relevant.