Client Care & Complaints Handling Policy
Aston Brooke Solicitors (“ABS”) is a trading name for Business Lawyers Limited (“BLL”). BLL is committed to offering a quality service by specialist departments containing expert lawyers and experienced support staff.
BLL strives to ensure that its advice is cost effective and communicated in a manner that is appropriate for each client.
BLL is also committed to providing a truly professional service, meaning that all personnel must act with integrity in all their dealings with clients. This is in part achieved by ensuring that the firm and individuals provide legal services according to the fundamental, ethical and professional standards expected under the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.
All personnel should at all times have regard to the mandatory principles which apply to all. Therefore, each and every employee of BLL must:
- Uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice.
- Act with integrity.
- Act in the best interests of each client.
- Provide a good standard of service to your clients.
- Comply with our legal and regulatory obligations, and deal with our regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner;
- Run our businesses and carry out our role in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles;
- Promote equality and diversity within our businesses and not discriminate unlawfully in connection with the provision of legal services; and
- Protect client money and assets.
- Not behave in a way that is likely to diminish the trust the public places in you or the legal profession.
- Not allow our independence to be compromised.
At BLL, we make sure that our clients receive a client care letter that fully explains the level of service they will receive. In addition, we will name the person responsible for individual matters and their position in the practice. The client care letter will give the name of the supervisor responsible for each matter, and the name of the person who is responsible for dealing with any complaints.
BLL will accept instructions only where it can meet its commitment to the provision of an expert and professional service to clients. Where instructions would be beyond the expertise or the capabilities of BLL they will be declined.
All heads of department maintain lists of work that JLCO will and will not undertake; in any cases of doubt as to the ability of the firm to act appropriately for the client, the appropriate head of department should be consulted.
BLL offers the following legal services:
- No-win no-fee work
- Conditional fee arrangements
- Personal Injury
- Medical Negligence
- Commercial Property
- Wills & Probate
- Landlord & Tenant
- Debt Recovery
We do not offer the following services:
- Legal Aid work
- Family Law
- Court Agency Work
All solicitors are bound by the professional rules which require confidentiality to be maintained in all dealings with clients. This means that nobody may reveal to any outsider the nature of instructions provided or advice given to any client, other than in the pursuit of the client’s instructions.
In most circumstances, it will also be inappropriate to reveal BLL is in receipt of instructions from any named client. This is particularly the case in litigation, especially crime or divorce. If you are aware that friends or other people that you know are instructing BLL it may be tempting to reveal this information to others; do not do so.
If you are ever in doubt as to whether you should reveal whether we act for a given client, or give out his, her or its address, check with a partner.
Breaches of confidentiality could cause considerable problems for the form and will usually be treated by the Partners as a serious disciplinary offence.
In order to continually improve our service, we actively encourage and value feedback from our clients. At the end of every matter, we send out a client satisfaction questionnaire. In addition, we monitor and evaluate client complaints to identify and address shortcomings and failings in our standard of service. Such feedback is essential to help continually gauge client perceptions of our service.
Clients seek legal advice for a variety of reasons, but many approach a solicitor when they are vulnerable and in turmoil, whether in their personal lives or in their business activities. Clients are entitled to expect a genuine commitment from all personnel in handling their instructions, and for BLL to attach appropriate priority to their requirements.
All clients are entitled to be dealt with in a respectful and courteous manner. This will have many implications, from not keeping clients waiting in the reception area without explanation, to showing them the way to and from meeting rooms, to returning telephone calls and e-mails as a priority, and generally taking an interest in them and their problems.
All employees should show a genuine concern for our clients by doing their best to help them.
- Information Provided to our Client (Client Care Letters)
A client care letter is provided to each client when a matter is opened, which details the following:
- Establishes the client’s requirements and objectives
- Provides a clear explanation of the issues involved and the options available to the client
- Explains what the fee earner will and won’t do
- Establishes a method of funding
- Agrees an appropriate level of service
- Explains our responsibilities and the client’s
- Provides the client with the name and status of the person dealing with their matter
- Provides the client with the name of the person responsible for the overall supervision of their matter
- Advises the client of the basis of our charging
- Advises the client of likely payments which we or our client may need to make to others
- Explains to the client how they can pay (this must also be addressed in the initial consultation)
- And advises the client that original documentation will be held as a lien if costs are unpaid.
The client care letter is sent to the client and a copy is kept in the physical file as well as on the e file for reference.
Following on from the client care letter, each client is provided with a flow chart of what the next and future steps will be. It will detail exactly what will happen throughout their matter and in what time scale.
As the matter progresses, fee earners will need to keep clients informed of any changed to the above agreements or costs. Clients should be advised if:
- The firm will receive a financial benefit as a result of accepting instructions (i.e. referrals)
- The charging rates are to be increased
- They will need to make additional payments to others
- They will be or potentially will be liable for any other party’s costs
- Record of Standing Terms of Business
At present we hold no standing terms of business with any of our clients. Fixed fees are set out in all of our client care letters when a matter begins. Should a fee earner wish to deviate away from the fixed fee for a regular client or individual this must be cleared in writing by one of the Directors, Kashif Majeed or Raman Purewal.
- Complaints Handling Written Procedure
BLL is committed to constantly maintaining the Quality of Service it provides.
Client feedback and complaints are extremely important to us and they tell is how well our service is meting clients’ expectations and provides information that could lead to improvements to our service.
Whenever a file is opened the client will be sent a client care letter which will indicate how and to whom the client should complain.
Where a client is given one off advice (e.g. over the telephone) a file would not be opened. In this instance, the client will be advised about whom to approach if they are dissatisfied with the service provided.
A complaint is defined as any statement of dissatisfaction made by a client or third party regarding the service we provide and may relate to the conduct of members of this practice or third parties whom we have instructed or engaged.
The practice has a Complaints Handling Procedure and one of the Directors, Mr Kashif Majeed or Mr Raman Purewal, is responsible for complaints handling.
- Complaints Procedure
BLL’s complaints procedure has been compiled with strict adherence to the guidelines set by the SRA. BLL has a written complaints procedure which is detailed hereunder and all complaints are handled promptly, fairly, openly and effectively in accordance with it.
- Clients will be informed in writing i.e. when issued with a client care letter, that they are entitled to complain if they are not happy with the service provided and who they should complain to. They should also be advised that the firm has a complaints procedure, a copy of which is available upon request.
- Clients and third parties should be treated courteously and never discouraged from making a complaint.
- Clients can make their complaint in person, by telephone or in writing, either by letter or email.
- Clients should ensure that they clearly explain the nature of the complaint, describe the facts and events relating to it, and what loss they may have incurred as a result.
- If a member of staff receives a complaint in person or by telephone it must be recorded and passed to Mr Kashif Majeed.
- If the complaint is received in writing, the letter or email must be passed to Mr Kashif Majeed or Mr Raman Purewal.
- All correspondence should be marked ‘Private and Confidential’
- Clients should be aware that a complaint could include one about the bill they receive.
- If a client makes a complaint, they will be contacted in writing and told how the complaint will be handled, who will be handling the complaint, and the timescales within which they will be given an initial and/or subsequent response.
The Complaints Handler will:-
- Acknowledge the complaint in writing within seven working days.
- Call for the case file if relevant, investigate the complaint, identify the cause of the complaint and respond to it, documenting the action taken.
Record the complaint on the Central Register (where the complaint material will be held)
- Report the outcome in writing to the person making the complaint within 6 weeks.
- If the client is not satisfied with the conclusion of the complaints process, they will be told of their right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, the timeframe for doing so and full details of how to contact the Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 6806
Tel: 0300 555 0333 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ombudsman is not able to consider a complaint unless it has first been investigated by BLL.
Clients will not be charged for the cost of handling their complaint in relation to services received from BLL or a third party appointed by BLL.
Complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority
The Solicitors Regulation Authority do not investigate complaints about poor service but do investigate allegations of dishonesty or discrimination (being treated unfairly or differently because of factors such as disability, race, religion or belief, sex or sexuality).
Visit their website to see how you can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
All employees will receive training on the requirements of this policy, including regular training for our existing employees, any new employees at induction and updates following any changes to the policy.
- Monitoring and review
Raman Purewal is responsible for this policy.
All employees must be aware of and adhere to it. You may be liable to disciplinary action if you fail to comply with the provisions of this policy or related policies and procedures.
We will review this policy regularly, at least annually. We will provide information and/or training on any changes we make.