Complaints Handling Policy

1.        Client facing policy

At DW Solicitors 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.  This will help us to improve our standards.

If you have a complaint, please send a letter or email to us detailing your concerns.

What will happen next? 

David Ward will deal with your complaint in the first instance. Mr Ward will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within five working days of receiving it with a copy of this procedure.

Mr Ward will then investigate your complaint.  He will review your matter file and speak to any other member of staff who acted in this matter for you. Within 10 working days of sending you the acknowledgement letter, Mr Ward will, if he considers it necessary, invite you to a meeting to discuss and hopefully resolve the matter.

Within five working days of the meeting, Mr Ward will write to you to confirm what took place and any solutions he has agreed with you.

If you do not want a meeting or Mr Ward does not consider a meeting necessary, Mr Ward will send you a detailed written reply to your complaint, including his suggestions for resolving the matter, within 10 working days of the latter of our acknowledgement letter or the date you notify DW Solicitors that you do not want a meeting if a meeting is suggested by Mr Ward.

At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, you should write to us again.  Mr Ward will then review his decision and respond within a further 5 working days.

Follow Mr Ward ’s review of his decision if you remain unsatisfied, we will ask Maria Boehm (another Partner in the Practice) or Mahesh Modi (an independent management consultant) to review your complaint and to respond to us within 10 days. We will let you know how long this process will take. We will let you know the result of the review within 5 working days of the end of the review. At this time Mr Ward will write to you confirming his final position on your complaint and explaining his reasons.

If you remain dissatisfied, you are able to raise your complaint with The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) who can be contacted as follows: PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ, Tel: 0300 5550333, Web: www.legalombudsman.org.uk.  Please note that there are time limits for submission of a complaint to LeO.  Leo will accept a complaint made within 6 years of the act or omission giving rise to the complaint, or within 3 years of you being reasonably aware of the complaint, this time limit being applicable after 6th October 2010.  Where the act or omission took place prior to 6th October 2010, the complaint must be raised with LeO within 3 years of when you should have been reasonably aware of the complaint.   In addition you must raise the complaint within 6 months of the final response under our internal complaints procedure.

If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will let you know and explain why.

  1. Introduction

1.1.1.     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.

1.1.2.     The following describes how we handle complaints.

1.2.      Recording complaints

1.2.1.     All complaints are handled by David Ward (DW). The details of the complaint will be entered into the complaints register.

1.2.2.     Throughout the process of the complaint DW will also document:

  • any investigative steps are 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.)

1.2.3.     DW will consider whether a complaint involves matters that need to be notified externally, eg to our professional indemnity insurers if the complaint involves allegations of negligence.

1.3.      Acknowledging complaints

1.3.1.     DW will acknowledge complaints in writing to the complainant within 5 working days, enclosing a copy of our complaints policy (as per page one of this document).

1.3.2.     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 DW
  • information on when we will next be in contact with the complainant

1.4.      Preliminary assessment

1.4.1.     We will consider each complaint objectively.

1.4.2.     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.

1.5.      Taking action

1.5.1.     Any action will depend on the conclusions drawn from the preliminary assessment.

1.5.2.    Generally   DW will:

  • investigate the complaint
  • obtain feedback from relevant people
  • provide a response to the complainant

1.5.3.     The level and extent of the investigations will be proportionate to the seriousness of the complaint.  Normally, and if considered necessary, DW will review the relevant matter file as a first step.

1.5.4.     Both clients and staff members involved in the complaint will be given the opportunity to provide their account of the situation and respond to points raised.

1.5.5.     DW will respond to the complainant promptly with any decision or proposed action. We will aim to do this within 10 working days of the date of our letter of acknowledgement. If there is a delay DW will write to the complainant to explain the reasons.

1.5.6.     DW’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

1.5.7.     The complainant’s decision will be recorded.

1.6.      Appeal

1.6.1.     If at the end of the initial review process the client is still unhappy they have the right to appeal against our decision. In this case

the matter will be reviewed by DW who will respond to the client within a further 5 working days.

1.6.2.     If the client is still not happy then Maria Boehm or Mahesh Modi will be asked to review the matter and to respond.

1.7.      Timescales

1.7.1.     We have eight weeks to resolve a complaint, after which the complainant may refer their complaint to the LeO for resolution.

1.8.      Confidentiality

1.8.1.     As with all client matters, we will treat complaints, and any information received during the course of dealing with complaints, with utmost confidentiality.

1.9.      Vulnerable clients

Our complaints handling procedure will be, insofar as is possible, handled sensitively to individual differences and the needs of our clients.