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Our Complaints Procedure

We are committed to providing a high quality legal service to all our clients. When something goes wrong we need you to tell us about it as this will help us to improve our standards. Every complaint is taken seriously and will be dealt with in accordance with our complaints procedure. Before entering into the following formal procedure we would urge you to liaise more informally with the fee earner dealing with your case. If your initial queries have not been responded to in a manner that pleases you then the following procedure must be followed.

OUR COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

Stage 1

If you wish to make a formal complaint, you should write to the fee earner who has conduct of your matter setting out the matters about which you wish to complain. You must set out the complaint in as much detail as possible to enable the fee earner to deal with the complaint as effectively as possible. Whilst every effort will be made to ensure that e mails are responded to, it is important that reliance is not placed upon this method of communication due to possible electronic malfunction. An initial complaint should therefore be sent by post to the office at which the fee earner handling your case is based. We always try to resolve complaints as quickly and efficiently as possible and it is therefore essential that you approach the fee earner who is dealing with your case first. Please also indicate whether you want Sinclairslaw to continue to act for you- it is very important that we know this at the beginning of your complaint due to upcoming court/tribunal deadlines that may need to be complied with. If you do not clarify this we will presume that we continue to be instructed and you will continue to be responsible for our fees, if we are instructed privately.

Once your complaint has been received the fee earner will acknowledge receipt within 7 days of receipt of your letter and he or she will provide you with a copy of this complaints procedure

In the acknowledgement letter, the fee earner will indicate to you that he or she will be investigating your complaint and will respond dealing with all aspects of your complaint in writing within 21 days of your original letter. Please note however that our ability to respond is dependent upon you setting out the complaint properly. In the acknowledgement letter the fee earner may therefore ask for further clarification and if you do not come back to us with this clarification we cannot process your complaint further. Our timescales can therefore be extended until your complaint is fully set out.

The fee earner will then write to you giving a formal response to the issues that you have raised. He/she will clarify whether in their view your complaint is justified, partially justified or unjustified. After receiving this letter if you would like to meet with the fee earner to resolve your complaint this can be arranged.

If you are not satisfied with the written response of the fee earner you can progress your complaint to Stage 2.

Stage 2

If the complaint cannot be dealt with effectively under Stage 1 of our complaints procedure, the complaint will be passed to the Complaints Officer of the relevant office at which the fee earner is based. The complaint can be passed to the Complaints Officer by either the fee earner with conduct of the case or yourself.

The Complaints Officer is designated per office as follows:

Cardiff- Mr Greg Evans (Director)

Twickenham and London- John Ford (Managing Director)

The Complaints Officer will confirm that the complaint has been escalated to Stage 2 within 7 days of receipt of your letter or the referral from the fee earner; and this will be recorded in the Central Register of Complaints.

The Complaints Officer will then consider the complaint and the response from the fee earner and provide a full report to you within 21 days of the escalation to Stage 2. They will determine whether each aspect of your complaint is justified, partially justified or unjustified and they will make recommendations. These recommendations can be extensive such as transfer of your file to another fee earner.

Stage 3

If a complaint has not been resolved to your satisfaction within 8 weeks of it being made, you can contact the Legal Ombudsman about your complaint. The question of which complaints are covered by the Legal Ombudsman is governed by the Scheme Rules published by the Ombudsman. Any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must normally be made within 6 months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint and within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining (or if outside of this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it).

The address and contact details for the Legal Ombudsman are set out below

Legal Ombudsman

PO Box 6806

Wolverhampton
WV1 9WJ

Website www.legalombudsman.org.uk

Telephone 0300 555 0333

Email enquiries enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk.

Notes

  • If your complaint is regarding an administrative member of staff then your initial letter should be sent to the fee earner who that member of staff works for but if your complaint concerns somebody who represents the firm as a whole (such as a receptionist) the initial letter should be addressed to the Complaints Officer of the relevant office. Effectively therefore all Stage 1 complaints about general administrative staff are escalated to Stage 2 immediately if they are not allocated to a specific fee earner.
  • In the event of your complaint being received at our offices during a period of annual leave for the fee earner or Complaints Officer the complaint will be put before the fee earner or Complaints Officer on their return to the office
  • If your complaint is particularly urgent please make this very clear. We will not stick rigidly to the time limits in this policy if there are genuine extenuating circumstances constituting an emergency.
  • If your complaint is about a Complaints Officer or the COLP the complaint will be dealt with in the normal way for Stage 1. At Stage 2 the complaint will be passed to an alternative Complaints Officer.