Ms H approached a solicitor in April 2015 to defend her in criminal proceedings. Following a trial in January 2016, Ms H was found guilty and she was told there were no grounds to appeal her conviction or sentence.
Ms H complained to the solicitor on 10 February 2016 as she felt they did not represent her properly. The solicitor met with Ms H on 9 March to discuss her concerns and go through the file.
On 6 April, the solicitor wrote to Ms H explaining why they felt their service had been reasonable. The letter also told Ms H that if she did not get back in touch with them, they would consider the complaint closed. Ms H brought her complaint to the Legal Ombudsman on 15 December 2016.
The solicitor asked the Legal Ombudsman to dismiss the complaint as Ms H did not refer it to us within six months of their written response of 6 April.
The Legal Ombudsman decided that Ms H’s complaint was in time. Our Scheme Rules make it clear that the six month time limit only applies if the following information is “included prominently” in the “written response to the complaint”:
- an explanation that the Legal Ombudsman was available if Ms H remained dissatisfied;
- the Legal Ombudsman’s full contact details; and
- a warning that the complaint must be referred to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of the date of the written response.
The firm’s written response of 6 April 2016 did not include any of this information and so, the six month time limit did not apply.