When should I complain to my service provider?

You should complain as soon as you are aware there is a problem - don’t leave it too long. Problems are often sorted out more easily if they are dealt with early on.

Who do I complain to?

Complain to the person who handles complaints for your service provider. If you don’t know their name then mark your complaint for the attention of ‘The Complaints Handler’. If you have a complaint about a barrister, address it directly to him/her.

How do I make sure my service provider knows I am complaining?

It’s best to put your complaint in writing so that you can set out clearly what you are unhappy with. Write ‘complaint’ at the top of your letter or email. Keep a copy of this and all the replies you receive.

You may find it useful to use our example formal complaint letter to help you write your complaint, or for tips on what to say.

Make sure you tell your service provider everything that you are unhappy about because we can only look at complaints you have already made to them.

If you choose to make your complaint over the telephone or during a meeting, tell your service provider that you want to complain and ask them to record this on their file.

Make a note of the date, the issues you complained about, and who you spoke to. Ask for a written response.

If you haven’t heard from your service provider within seven days of making your complaint, contact them to make sure they have got it and that they are going to reply to you.

When can you bring a complaint to us?

Once you have made a complaint to your service provider, they have up to eight weeks to respond to you. If you aren’t happy with their final response, or they haven’t responded within the eight weeks, you can then ask us to look at it.

If you are referring your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, generally you can ask us to look at your complaint within either:

  • One year of the problem happening; or
  • One year from when you found out about it (if it took place more than a year ago).

You need to bring your complaint to us within six months of your service provider’s final response. If your complaint does not meet these time limits we may not be able to investigate it. A final response is when the service provider has nothing further to say and tells you that if you are still unhappy you can contact the Legal Ombudsman.

Additional information

What if my service provider wants more than eight weeks to sort out my complaint?

As long as you have given them up to eight weeks to sort out the problem, you can bring your complaint to us. Our first step is then to check that we can help resolve your problem – so we will ask about you, your service provider, and the time frames to make sure we have powers to investigate your complaint. If we can’t, we will help you find the right organisation to contact.

Can my service provider charge me for looking into my complaint?

Ordinarily service providers should not charge you for investigating your complaint. If they do charge then this is something we could consider as part of our investigation.

My service provider has asked me to attend a meeting to discuss the complaint. Do I have to go?

It may help to meet and discuss the complaint with them. You could also consider taking a friend or representative with you. However, you do not have to, so please let your service provider know if you don’t wish to attend a meeting.

Important things to know about how we handle your information

You can visit our privacy page to find out how we use your personal data. We comply with data protection rules at all times. You can contact our dedicated team at infosec@legalombudsman.org.uk for further information about this and any freedom of information requests.