It’s a sad fact that people have a tendency to put up with poor standards of advice and service from solicitors. Maybe that has something to do with a sense of fear of not wanting to upset the person upon whom you are relying to guide you through what may be seen as an unfathomable or complex process.
However, you should always remember that it is the solicitor’s privilege to have you as a client, rather than the other way around. We would all like to believe then that if your solicitor had any idea that you were not entirely happy with them, they would be keen to do whatever was necessary to restore your confidence in them.
Although, regrettably, that is not always the case, both the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), recommend that complaints should always first be directed to the law firm itself. All law firms must have a procedure for handling complaints and there will be a named individual who is the dedicated complaints handler. The name of the complaints handler should be specified in the initial client care letter sent to the client.
If that direct approach to the complaints handler does not result in a satisfactory resolution of the problem, a client’s next step should be to contact the Legal Ombudsman (0300 555 0333).
The Legal Ombudsman can impose a number of sanctions, including ordering the return of documents, the refund of all or part of a client’s fees, compensation for poor service and even an apology.
In some cases these sanctions are sufficient to resolve the matter. However, the fact that a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman has been necessary means that for many clients, whatever the outcome of the investigation by the Legal Ombudsman, they believe that the relationship with their solicitor has irretrievably broken down. Consequently, they have little option but to look around for a new solicitor.
With that in mind, you may also be interested in our earlier articles “Should I change my solicitor?”, “Can I change my solicitor?”, “How do I change my solicitor” and “Is my solicitor really a solicitor?”