Our Complaints Handling Procedure
Kitson and Trotman are committed to providing a high-quality legal service to our clients. We aim to get things right the first time but if something goes wrong please let us know straight away.
We take your complaints seriously and will investigate them and try to resolve them, promptly and fairly, wherever possible. We want to learn lessons from the experience, too, so we can improve our service to you.
Below is a guide on our complaints handling procedure although we may depart from this procedure where it appears fair and reasonable to do so.
Please let us know if you need this information in large print or have any other specific needs and we will do our best to assist.
What is a complaint?
Our definition of a complaint is:
“any written or verbal expression of dissatisfaction referred to any person in our organisation which alleges that the complainant has suffered (or may suffer) financial loss, distress, inconvenience or other detriment”. A complaint can be identified through a letter, telephone call, e-mail, or in the course of a face to face conversation.
A complaint may involve:
- Dissatisfaction with the handling of a case;
- Disappointment with an alleged lack of communication;
- Frustration with an alleged lack of case progress;
- An allegation of discrimination; or
- Dissatisfaction with the outcome of the case.
Issues of a very minor nature, however, for example, not returning a non-urgent telephone call until the following day would not be recorded as a complaint.
How do I make a complaint?
Ideally, if you are unhappy about any aspect of our service then please, in the first instance, raise it with the staff member handling your matter. If you are uncomfortable about doing this, or wish to make a formal complaint, you can write (by letter or email) or speak toRichard King,the Partner who manages our complaints process. Richard’s contact details are: -
Telephone (Direct Line) 01308 480028
By post: addressed to Richard King at our Bridport Office, 9 Chancery Lane, Bridport, DT6 3PX(please mark as ‘Strictly Private and Confidential’)
To help us to understand your complaint, and ensure we do not miss anything, please tell us:
- your full name and contact details
- what you think we have got wrong
- what you hope to achieve as a result of your complaint, and
- your file reference number (if you have it)
If you require any help in making your complaint, please let us know.
How will you deal with my complaint?
Please note that we aim to deal with complaints, promptly, but sometimes it is necessary to carry out some preliminary work or speak to the staff member concerned before we can respond to you so please bear with us.
Upon receiving your complaint(s), we will record it in our central register and write back to you, usually within 7 working days, acknowledging its receipt and enclosing a copy of this policy.
If at any point in the process we need further information or documents, before we can proceed, we will ask you for this information/documents, giving you a specific timescale, and we will explain why it is necessary. We will need you to provide the information/documents promptly so we can move forward with the investigation.
Usually we aim to investigate complaints within 21 days of the acknowledgement letter but, depending upon the circumstances, it may take longer. In any event, we will keep you informed on progress, the reasons for any delays and the revised timescale.
The investigation process will usually involve:
- reviewing your complaint(s)
- reviewing your file(s) and other relevant documents, and
- speaking with the person who dealt with your matter
Once the investigation is complete, we may also, if appropriate, invite you to a meeting to discuss your complaint(s) and hopefully resolve them. If you do not want to, or are unable to, attend this meeting we can send you a written response, including any proposed solution; usually within 35 days of the date of the letter of acknowledgement. Alternatively, we will be happy to discuss the matter with you on the telephone or make some other reasonable arrangements.
Following our meeting, we will write to you confirming the outcome of the investigation, and advising what we have done and/or what we propose to do to resolve your complaint. Where possible, we will aim to do this within 7 days from the date of meeting.
What if I am satisfied with the outcome?
We hope you will be satisfied with the agreed outcome then the matter will be closed. We will keep the records relating to your complaint for 6 years after which time they will be reviewed and, if no longer required, securely destroyed. Please note that some details of complaints may be shared with bodies that regulate or audit law firms or with courts or others in case of legal proceedings concerning the matter.
What if I am not satisfied with the outcome?
If you are unhappy with the outcome of our complaints handling procedure, please let us know within 7 days. We can arrange, then, a review of the complaint handling by another partner, or other senior member of staff, unconnected to the matter in question. The person appointed will aim to write to you within 14 days with the outcome of the review and confirmation of the firm’s final position, with reasons, and any final redress offered.
We have 8 weeks to consider your complaint. If for any reason, we have been unable to resolve the issue in that timeframe then you may ask the Legal Ombudsman to look into your complaint. We do hope you will not find that necessary but the details of the Legal Ombudsman Service are set out below.
The Legal Ombudsman
The Legal Ombudsman deals with a variety of complaints about legal firms including issues such as poor communication (e.g. not replying to letters, emails or calls within a reasonable time); charging an unreasonable amount for work undertaken (see below for more information); poor matter management e.g. losing your documents or giving unclear advice; unsatisfactory behaviour such as not explaining issues properly.
You can contact the Legal Ombudsman:
- by post: at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
- by telephone: 0300 555 0333, or
- by email: email@example.com
You must usually refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of our final written response to your complaint and within six years of the act or omission, about which you are complaining, occurring (or within three years of you becoming aware of it). Further details are available on the website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk
Where your complaint related to a bill, you also have the right to object to the bill and apply for an assessment of the bill (this is where the court looks at the reasonableness of the bill) under Part 111 of the Solicitors Act 1974. The Legal Ombudsman may not deal with a complaint about the bill if you have applied to the Court for an assessment of the bill.
The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA)
The SRA regulates the work of law firms and can take action against us if we breach one of the principles in its Code of Conduct. Here is a link to the Code http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/handbook/handbookprinciples/content.page
The matters the SRA can consider include, for example, allegations that we have been acting dishonestly, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic e.g. your race or ethnic origin or sexuality. Please see the attached link for more details about when and how you can complain direct to the SRA https://sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor.page
Where a complaint is made to the Legal Ombudsman’s and their investigation shows a breach of the principles, mentioned above, may have occurred; then, the Legal Ombudsman can alert the SRA of the issue, directly, so it can decide whether further investigation is needed.
Where a complaint is upheld we will look to act promptly, and put the matter right, if possible, and may offer suitable redress to compensate where this would be appropriate.
What will it cost?
We will not charge you for handling your complaint. Please note, however, that if we have issued a bill for work done on the matter, and all or some of the bill is not paid, we may be entitled to charge interest on the amount outstanding.
The Legal Ombudsman service and the SRA complaints’ service is free of charge