Legal service provider complaints

Who can use our service?

Our scheme rules state who can bring a complaint to us and the timeframes in which we can accept them. Read our scheme rules here.

Not sure if you need to talk to us or the Solicitors Regulation Authority? Check out this guide first.

Members of the public

We prefer you to come to us directly, but you can ask a friend, relative or anyone else to get in touch on your behalf (we will need you to tell us that this person has your permission to speak to us directly). You don’t need to use a service provider to complain to us, but if you do, they may charge you a fee.

Charities, clubs and trusts

Charities, clubs or associations with an annual income of less than £1 million; or a trustee of a trust with net assets worth less than £1 million.

Very small businesses

Must not employ any more than nine full-time staff, have an annual turnover in excess of €2 million, or a balance sheet total in excess of €2 million.


If someone has died, and there is a problem with their will or estate, we may be able to help if you are a beneficiary of their estate.

When can you tell us about your complaint?

If you have experienced a problem with your legal service provider – for example, if you received poor service when you bought or sold a house or made a personal injury claim – then we’d like to hear from you as soon as possible.

We can only help to resolve a problem once certain conditions, outlined below, have been met.

Contact your service provider first

We can only start investigating a problem after you have made a complaint to your service provider. They have up to eight weeks to respond. If you aren’t happy with their final response, or they haven’t responded within eight weeks, you can ask us to look at it.

If you want to make your complaint in writing here’s an example letter that we’ve created. Example letter (pdf opens in a new window)

If you’ve already complained to your service provider but haven’t received a response, please check that they have received your complaint.

Wait for their final response

Their final response should tell you that they have nothing further to say in response to your complaint and, if you are still unhappy with the reply, to contact the Legal Ombudsman.

Contact us as soon as you can after trying to resolve your complaint with the service provider – don’t delay.


Ordinarily, you can ask us to look at your complaint if it meets all three of the conditions below:

  1. The problem or when you found out about it, happened after 5 October 2010; and
  2. You are referring your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within either of the following:
  • Six years of the problem happening; or
  • Three years from when you found out about it; and
  1. You are referring your complaint to us within six months of your service provider’s final response.


If your complaint is about a legal service provided by an accountant, the problem must have happened after the date the accountant was allowed to provide legal services by the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales (ICAEW), and not from 5 October 2010.

We DO NOT investigate complaints about accountants who are not regulated by the ICAEW or problems with a non-legal service, such as your tax return. Please contact us for more information.

How do we resolve complaints?

We aim to ensure that every complaint we receive is dealt with in a fair and consistent way.

The three steps, below, explain what happens once you have told us about your complaint.



Our first step is to check that we can help resolve your problem; so we will ask about you, your service provider, and the timeframes to make sure we have powers to investigate your complaint.

We will ask you to send us a copy of your complaint, and the final response from the service provider



If we can investigate your problem, your case will be passed to an investigator who will look at the facts and form an independent view about what happened.

If we find that there was poor service, we will first try to help you and your service provider to resolve the issue quickly and informally. It’s best for everyone, and quicker, if an amicable agreement can be reached.


Resolving complaints

From the start of the investigation we will try to resolve your problem in a way that you and your service provider can agree to. If this is not possible, your investigator will write a report that may propose a remedy or action the service provider should take. We will send a copy of the report to both you and the service provider to see what you think. An ombudsman may be required to make a decision, which, once agreed, is final and binding. An ombudsman decision may be less favourable than the recommendation proposed by the investigator.


How long does it take?

This will depend on a number of things including: the complexity of the complaint; how much information is required; and how difficult the information is to track down. On average, it takes 59 days to reach an informal resolution from the date that we accept a case and 119 days to reach on ombudsman decision.

For more information on how we resolve complaints view our factsheets:
Here to help sort out problems with your legal service provider
How to complain to your legal service provider
Our process once your complaint is agreed

Case studies

  • Case study

    Case study

    6 year time limit

    Mr T had approached a service provider to act for him in a claim against his employer. Following a...

  • Case study

    Case study

    3 year time limit

    Miss C instructed a solicitor in 2005 when she purchased her house. When Miss C came to sell her...

  • Case study

    Case study

    Six month time limit

    Ms H approached a solicitor in April 2015 to defend her in criminal proceedings. Following a trial in January...

  • Case study

    Case study

    Complaint about somebody else's solicitor

    Mr D asked a solicitor to act for him in his divorce in 2016. Although Mr D was happy...

  • Case study

    Case study

    Who can complain about a will

    In 1998 Mrs B asked a solicitor to draft her will leaving everything to her son. In 2017 Mrs...

  • Case study

    Case study

    Reasonable offer made by solicitor

    Mr W instructed a solicitor to act for him in a medical negligence claim. When the solicitor told Mr...

  • Case study

    Case study

    First tier offer accepted

    Miss R instructed a solicitor to act for her in a neighbour dispute. Miss R lost the case and...

  • Case study

    Case study

    Solicitors discretion

    Mr P was a beneficiary of a trust arising from a will. The trustee was a solicitor who, under...

Let's get started

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

Before you tell us about your complaint, please answer the questions below to check if we can help.

If your complaint does not meet all of our time limits we may not be able to investigate it.

Before we can help with your complaint, you will need to:

already have complained to the provider, use this handy template to complain to your provider;

know the date that the problem happened and the dates that you made the complaint;

have the complaint letter and service provider’s final response available to send us;

provide us with your email address and other contact information.

The guidelines that decide whether we can help are set out above and in our FAQs. If we cannot help, there are other organisations that might be able to help you.

Call us

0300 555 0333

We are open 8.30am to 5.30pm Mon-Fri.
Calls will cost no more than those to national geographic numbers (starting 01 or 02) from both mobiles and landlines. If you are calling from overseas, please call: +44 121 245 3050

NGT Lite users:
18001 0300 555 0333

Minicom text phone user:
18002 0300 555 0333

More information about NGT Lite and Minicom text phone can be found here.

Make a complaint

Answer the questions to see if we are the right organisation to help you. If it looks like we can help you we will ask you to complete our online complaint form

You will need to provide documents and personal information. If you do not want to complete the online form, you can also download it and send by email.

Go to questions


Important things to know about how we handle your information

  • All calls to the Legal Ombudsman may be recorded and used for training and monitoring purposes.
  • All paper documents sent to us by post are shredded. Please only send copies and keep the originals for yourself.
  • We may share your information with third parties such as approved regulators and for research purposes.
  • The Legal Ombudsman will share information provided by you with others who are directly involved in the investigation of your complaint. for instance, the lawyer or law firm involved, and regulators such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority or Bar Standards Board. information is provided on a confidential basis.
  • Information provided to you by the Legal Ombudsman, during the investigation of your complaint, should be treated as confidential and not passed on to anyone else.

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