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How we resolve complaints

The aim of this guide is to highlight the stages of the complaints process. 

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.

Helpful resources

First tier complaint

First tier complaint

Complaints should be dealt with in line with your complaints policy.

  • You have up to eight weeks to resolve a complaint.

  • After this, a complaint can come to the Legal Ombudsman.

  • Read our guidance on resolving complaints.
Signposting

Signposting

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.

  • Read our signposting guidance to find out what information you must share.

  • Make sure you tell people about the six month time limit. If you don't they can bring a complaint after six months. 

 

We aim to be fair and impartial when helping people resolve their complaints with legal service providers

We aim to be fair and impartial when helping people resolve their complaints with legal service providers
When we receive a complaint

When we receive a complaint

As soon as we receive a complaint we will tell you and let you know the details.

  • While we undertake jurisdiction checks you will have time to revisit the complaint and consider if there is anything else you can do to resolve it 

  • If you think the complaint is not in our jurisdiction please tell us so we can consider it as early as possible. (Scheme Rule 5.4). 

  • We have a high number of cases to assess at the moment so it will take us a while to tell you the outcomes of the jurisdiction checks.  
Accepting a complaint

Accepting a complaint

When we begin an investigation there is certain information we have to check.

  • Is the complaint within our scheme rules (Chapter 5)
  • Should we investigate? Is there a reason for us to dismiss or discontinue a complaint (scheme rule 5.7)?
  • You can read our case studies to find out why we do not always investigate.

In 2019/20 ombudsmen found unreasonable service in 51% of cases

In 2019/20 ombudsmen found unreasonable service in 51% of cases
Understanding the complaint

Understanding the complaint

When we’re clear the complaint is eligible our investigator will discuss the complaint with you.

They will also contact your client to listen to their point of view.

Hearing both sides of the story helps us to see ways in which we might resolve the issue.

You can expect us to:

  • Listen carefully and ask questions to understand the complaint

  • Identify if there is an early opportunity to resolve the complaint/dispute

  • Confirm which parts of the complaints we will investigate.

We need you to:

  • Send us the key evidence by the date our investigator gives you

  • Tell us if you need more time

  • Follow our investigation process.
Investigating the complaint

Investigating the complaint

Once we fully understand the complaint and have the evidence we need, we will begin our investigation.

  • You will receive updates on the progress of your investigation.

  • We will consider the relevant information from both parties.

  • We will share our views with both parties. 

Many complaints are resolved at agreed outcome stage

Many complaints are resolved at agreed outcome stage
Resolving it together

Resolving it together

Once we have completed our investigation, we will talk to you about our findings. Our aim is to see if we can reach an outcome that is acceptable to both parties.

You can expect us to:

  • Communicate our decisions clearly and concisely.

We need you to:

  • Think about whether the suggested agreed outcome is reasonable.

If it is not possible to reach an agreed outcome, your investigator will write a case decision.

If the service was not reasonable, the investigator will set out what you need to do to resolve the dispute.

If both parties agree with the case decision the complaint can be resolved.

Our guidance on determining complaints and putting things right may be helpful.

Ombudsman decision

Ombudsman decision

If either party does not agree with the case decision then an ombudsman will review the complaint and available evidence along with the case decision. They will then make a final decision about the dispute.

If the complainant accepts the decision it will be binding and you are required to follow any remedy which is required.

The case will be passed to the Resolution Coordination Team who will finalise the administration of the case.

Case fees

Case fees

Once the case has been resolved a decision will be made about whether the case fee can be waived.

  • The Legal Services Act requires us to have a case fee and a test for waiving the fee.
  • You can read the guidance on the test and whether you meet it here.
Publishing the complaint

Publishing the complaint

We publish the details of all the final decisions made by an ombudsman. This includes the name of the firm.

  • The final decision will include the information which we intend to publish and when it will be available.