The journey sets out the different steps from the first tier complaints process, the complaints we can accept, and how to work with the Legal Ombudsman.
Complaints should be dealt with in line with your complaints policy.
You must signpost people to the Legal Ombudsman in your final complaint response and tell them that they have six months to take the complaint further
When we receive a complaint we will carry out some initial jurisdiction checks and make sure that you have been given the chance to resolve the complaint at first tier.
How long? It is currently taking up to 12 weeks to carry out jurisdiction checks.
When we have all the information we need, the complaint will be reviewed by our specialist team to see if we can resolve it more quickly.
If that is the case, a team member may contact you, and/or the complainant, to discuss early resolution options or explain why they believe the complaint should not be investigated.
Sometimes it is not possible for us to investigate a complaint if, for example, the service provider being complained about has closed and there are no reasonable prospects of us resolving a complaint. Another example is when an offer has already been made to a complainant by a service provider which would be of higher or equal value to any remedy we could reasonably obtain for a complainant given the nature of their complaint. We may also be able to identify a remedy without the need for a lengthy investigation based on our expertise and experience and negotiate an agreement between you and the complainant.
Reviews to identify whether an early resolution is possible are taking 4-5 weeks. We will contact you to let you know whether an early resolution will take place or whether we will be taking the complaint forward for investigation.
When an investigator is assigned to a complaint they will decide whether an investigation can begin.
They will check:
They might contact you and the complainant to get a better understanding of the complaint before they make this decision. You can read our case studies to find out why we do not always investigate a complaint.
The investigator will let you know if the complaint is accepted for investigation, or not, and what the next steps are.
It is currently taking 9-12 months for most cases to be accepted, and an investigation to begin. Sometimes more complex cases can take 18-24 months.
Once we have accepted the complaint an investigation will begin. The investigator will contact the complainant to make sure they have understood the complaint.
We complete most investigations in 3-6 months, but more complex complaints can take up to 12 months.
We need you to:
The investigator will talk to you about their findings and try to reach an outcome that is acceptable to you and the complainant. We call this an agreed outcome.
An ombudsman may be asked to make a final decision where, for example, an agreed outcome cannot be reached, the service provider is closed, or the comments received from you or your complainant show a possible error in fact or law, or provide additional new evidence. Where a final decision will be made:
If an ombudsman considers that a final decision is not required the case will be closed on the basis of the recommendation outlined in the case decision.
Please read Frequently Asked Questions for the process used for complaints referred to the Legal Ombudsman before 1 April 2023.
Once the case has been resolved a decision will be made about whether the case fee can be waived.
We publish the details of all the final decisions made by an ombudsman. This includes the name of the firm.