At Lewis Silkin we aim to provide a high quality legal service to all clients and we recognise that complaints may provide us with an opportunity to check the quality of our service and to make improvements.
Our policy concerning complaints
We aim to provide a high quality legal service to all clients and we recognise that complaints may provide us with an opportunity to check the quality of our service and to make improvements.
We also recognise that:
- We have obligations under Chapter 1 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 to provide information about our complaints procedure to our clients at the outset of their matter; and that
- All of our individual clients and some of our organisational clients have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, provided that they do so within the Ombudsman’s time limits; and that
- All complaints that we deal with, should be dealt with promptly, fairly, openly and effectively.
A copy of this policy should be published on our web site. Copies should also be provided individually to any client who indicates a wish to complain about our services.
Minor concerns can often be resolved by informal discussion with the partner responsible for a particular matter and we encourage clients with concerns to raise these with their Client Partner or Matter Partner in the first instance.
How can a formal complaint be made?
If you are a client who wishes to make a complaint about any aspect of our service to you then please write to the Chief Executive Officer (Ian Jeffery), at our London office, setting out the details of your complaint.
Before setting out your complaint you may wish to review the guidance notes published by the Legal Ombudsman relating to complaints against solicitors. These are published on the Legal Ombudsman’s web site, the details of which are provided below.
Please make any complaint as soon as possible following the acts or omissions about which you wish to complain and in any event within no more than ten months of such acts or omissions. We may decline to investigate complaints raised outside those time limits and you may also lose or have lost any right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman whose own time limits are referred to below.
We will normally acknowledge each complaint sent to our Chief Executive Officer within two working days of receipt and tell you the name of the person who will investigate the complaint. Usually this will either be the firm’s internal Counsel, or a partner who has not been involved in the matter about which your complaint is made, but one who practises in the relevant field of law.
The person carrying out the investigation will establish a separate file for that investigation in order that a written record of it is kept and in order that the investigation file can be readily provided to the Legal Ombudsman if subsequently requested.
The person investigating the complaint will review your complaint with the person handling the matter, consider relevant papers from the file and other records, and make any wider enquiries within the firm as may be necessary. He or she may also ask to meet with you in the course of our investigation, if clarification is needed of any points raised in your complaint.
We will usually respond substantively to a complaint within 28 days. If that is not possible, we will let you know when you will receive our full response. We aim always to respond to a complaint within 56 days of its first being made to us, as this is the period within which the Legal Ombudsman expects firms to respond.
In our substantive response to you, we will:
- Outline the investigations that we have carried out;
- Set out our conclusions in relation to your complaint; and
- Explain how we have reached those conclusions based on our investigation.
If we find that we have fallen short of what you should have expected from us, then we may also:
- Explain what went wrong;
- Propose one or more remedies to you; and/or
- Explain how we have changed our practices to prevent similar problems in the future.
No charge will be made to you for the work done in responding to your complaint.
Concerns about fees
Concerns raised under this complaints procedure may include those relating to our fees.
You may also have the right to challenge our fees by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitor’s Act 1974. Please note that certain time limits apply to these procedures.
The Legal Ombudsman
If you are not satisfied with the response that we have provided to your complaint, then you may have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman. This right is available to all individual clients and to some organisational clients.
The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against Solicitors and may be contacted at:
The Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 6806
Tel: 0300 555 0333
Please be aware that the Legal Ombudsman has published certain rules on its web site in relation to complaints, including rules as to:
- who can complain;
- the subject matter of complaints; and
- the time limits within which complaints need to be brought.
Should you wish to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, you must do so:
- within six months of the receipt of our response; and
- within six years from the date of the act/omission, or three years from when you should have known about the complaint.
The Solicitors Regulatory Authority
We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (Authorisation no. 439493). If you have a complaint about our behaviour, particularly in relation to dishonesty, financial wrongdoing or discrimination the SRA may be able to help you. Further information is available at: http://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor.page#how-complain and they may be contacted at:
Solicitors Regulation Authority
199 Wharfside Street
0370 606 2555