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Laceys Complaints Procedure

  1. This procedure applies to Complaints from:
    1. clients or;
    2. beneficiaries of an estate or trust where the client is the personal representative or trustee of the estate or trust;
    3. prospective clients who allege that Laceys offered, or refused to provide, services unreasonably ( in which case this procedure will be amended as appropriate).
  2. A Complaint is an oral or written expression of dissatisfaction which alleges that the complainant has suffered (or may suffer) financial loss, distress, inconvenience or other detriment.
  3. Laceys will not make any charge for investigating or responding to a Complaint from those set out in paragraph 1.
  4. The Investigating Partner will be appointed by the Complaints Partner (ie: Jonathan Williams) the Managing Partner (ie: Mark Timberlake) or another partner in their absence. The Investigating Partner must not be the main subject of the complaint (except where that cannot be avoided) and will be one of the following:
    1. Head of Department;
    2. Complaints Partner;
    3. another partner;
    4. such other person that is considered appropriate.
  5. The Complaints Partner or the Investigating Partner will decide initially if the complaint should be not accepted because:
    1. the act/omission complained of was the subject (or could have been ) of a previous complaint which has been determined or;
    2. the complaint has not been made in time. To be in time, a complaint must be:
      1. in respect of an alleged act or omission that occurred after 5th October 2010, or if before, the date the complainant should first reasonably have known there was cause for complaint should be after that date; and
      2. received by Laceys within:
        1. 6 years from when the act/omission complained of occurred or;
        2. 3 years from when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.
    3. the complaint involves an allegation that substantial loss has been caused by negligence which should more appropriately be pursued through the Pre-Action Protocol for Professional Negligence.
  6. If the complaint is out of time under paragraph 5(b)(ii) above, but the Investigating Partner or Complaints Partner considers there are exceptional circumstances, they may agree that the complaint will be investigated to the extent that they consider fair.
  7. The Investigating Partner will :
    1. seek to resolve the complaint informally if considered appropriate but if not or it is unsuccessful;
    2. write to the complainant:
      1. with a copy of this complaints procedure;
      2. stating his position and that he will deal with this complaint initially;
      3. summarise his understanding of the complaint;
      4. invite the complainant to clarify the complaint if misunderstood or to confirm it is correctly understood;
    3. investigate the complaint as follows:
      1. get the file and examine it;
      2. speak to the relevant caseworker on the matters raised in the complaint;
      3. if he considers it necessary, or the complainant requests, see the complainant to ensure the Investigating Partner has all of the information needed;
      4. give the decision within 8 weeks from receipt by Laceys of the complaint. If further time is required to investigate, the investigating partner will write to the complainant giving the altered timetable (which will be such as to complete the task within a reasonable period of time).
    4. in that decision, inform the complainant that they may (except for those listed below) bring the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton,WV19WJ (tel 03005550333 & email enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk & Website www.legalombudsman.org.uk) within all the time limits set out below (unless the Legal Ombudsman extends the time limit on grounds of fairness)
  8. The Legal Ombudsman will not accept a complaint:
    1. in respect of which the alleged act or omission, and when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint, was before 5th October 2010;
    2. not made in time. To be in time, a complaint must be:
      1. in respect of an alleged act or omission that occurred after 5th October 2010, or if before, the date the complainant should first reasonably have known there was cause for complaint should be after that date; and
      2. received by the Ombudsman within:
        1. 6 years from when the act/omission complained of occurred or;
        2. 3 years from when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint; and
      3. received by the Ombudsman within 6 months of receiving Laceys’ final response;
    3. from a complainant who was not a client, beneficiary or prospective client, as explained in paragraph 1 of this complaints’ procedure, and who is not also one of the following:
      1. an individual;
      2. a business or enterprise that was a micro-enterprise (European Union definition) when it referred the complaint to Laceys;1
      3. a charity that had an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million when it referred the complaint to Laceys;
      4. a club/association/organisation, the affairs of which are managed by its members/a committee/ a committee of its members, that had an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million when it referred the complaint to Laceys;
      5. a trustee of a trust that had an asset value of less than £1 million when it referred the complaint to Laceys;
      6. a personal representative or beneficiary of the estate of a person who, before he/she died, had not referred the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman;
      7. in respect of (v) and (vi) above, the condition is that the services to which the complaint relates were provided by Laceys to a person:
        1. who has subsequently died; and
        2. had not by his or her death referred the complaint to the Ombudsman scheme.
  9. The Investigating Partner shall as he/she sees fit on a complaint upheld to any extent select a remedy or remedies from the following list:
    1. an apology from the firm and an assurance that it will not happen again, and that we will try to do better;
    2. a reduction in the bill;
    3. abatement of the bill in total;
    4. compensation;
    5. notification of a right to see another solicitor and obtain advice as to whether Laceys has been negligent.
  10. A complaint can be made to the Solicitors Regulation Authority if you think a firm or anyone regulated by the SRA has breached an SRA Principle. A report can also be made if there has been non-payment of professional fees (such as agent or expert fees) if you have a County Court judgement in respect of the fee which relates to the practice in connection with providing a legal service. Further details and a form to send to the SRA can be found at https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor/

Jonathan Williams, who is the Complaints Partner, can be contacted at;

Laceys Solicitors LLP, 9 Poole Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5QR

Email: j.williams@laceyssolicitors.co.uk, Direct Dial:  01202 377 846

1 Defined in European Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC-broadly a business or enterprise with fewer than 10 employees and turnover or assets not exceeding 2 million Euros.

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