Complaints Handling Procedure

We are committed to providing a high-quality legal service to all our clients and our aim is that no client should have any cause for dissatisfaction with the services we provide. However, if something goes wrong or you are unhappy for any reason, we need you to tell us about it.  This will help us to improve our standards and our service.

If you have a complaint you should first take it up with the lawyer working with you to see if your concerns can be resolved. Alternatively, you may contact the partner with overall responsibility for complaints, Alastair Lewis directly by email to alewis@sharpepritchard.co.uk or by letter to our office address.

What will happen next?

  1. We will send you a letter or e-mail acknowledging your complaint and if appropriate (e.g. if the complaint cannot be dealt with immediately) ask you to confirm or explain the details set out.  We will also let you know the name of the person who will be dealing with your complaint.  You can expect to receive our letter within two working days of us receiving your complaint confirming what will happen next and advising when, within five working days, you can expect to hear from us.
  2. We will record your complaint in our central register and if appropriate open a separate file for your complaint.  We will do this within one working day of receiving your complaint.
  3. We will then start to investigate your complaint.  This will normally involve the following steps:
    • we will pass your complaint to Alastair Lewis, our Client Care Partner, and
    • he will ask the employee who acted for you to reply to your complaint within five working days.
  4. If this does not resolve the complaint, he will then examine the reply and the information in your complaint file.  If necessary, he may also speak to the employee.  This will take up to three working days from receiving the reply and the file.
  5. Alastair Lewis will, if appropriate, invite you to meet him and discuss and, we hope, resolve your complaint.  He will do this within three working days.
  6. Within two working days of any meeting Alastair Lewis 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 it is not possible, Alastair Lewis will send you a detailed reply to your complaint.  This will include his suggestions for resolving the matter.  He will do this within five working days of completing his investigation.
  7. At this stage, if you are still not satisfied you can write to us again.  We will then arrange to review our decision.  This will happen in one of the following ways:
    • another partner of the firm will review Alastair Lewis’s decision within 10 working days;
    • we will ask our local Law Society or another local firm of solicitors to review your complaint within five working days.

    We will let you know how long this process will take;

    Alternatively, we will invite you to agree to independent mediation within five working days.  We will let you know how long this process will take.

  8. We will let you know the result of the review within five working days of the end of the review.  At this time we will write to you confirming our final position on your complaint and explaining our reasons.

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

If you are still not satisfied you are entitled to complain to the Legal Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman can only accept complaints from individuals and certain small businesses and organisations like charities, clubs and trusts. The Ombudsman will not accept complaints from larger organisations or public bodies. Full details of the kinds of complaints which the Ombudsman will accept can be found on their website at www.legalombudsman.org.uk and their address and contact details are: PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ (email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk; tel: 0300 555 0333).

Clients who are not entitled to complain to the Ombudsman may be able to take their case to the Solicitors Regulation Authority or SRA. This will apply for matters of professional misconduct or breaches of the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct. The address and contact details for the SRA are: The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham BQ 1RN (tel: 0870 606 255)

Where there are concerns about a solicitor’s bill, it is possible to apply to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974.

If you are entitled to make a complaint to the Ombudsman, please note that you must normally do so within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint. You should also note that the Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about a bill if you have applied to the court for it to be assessed.