Important information Complaints procedure

  1. We are committed to providing a high quality and accessible legal service to all our clients.
  2. If you become in any way concerned about the service you are receiving, we would encourage you to raise your concerns informally with the person handling your matter, and we would hope that they would be able to address your concerns straight away. If you would prefer not to raise your concern with the partner handling your matter, or if they are not available, we are of course happy for you to raise it with the other partner.
  3. If that does not resolve the issue, or if you would prefer to deal with your concerns more formally, you should make your complaint in writing (ie by letter or email) or verbally in person or by telephone, making it clear that you are making a formal complaint and wish to invoke our Complaints Procedure.
  4. Where an expression of dissatisfaction is not stated to be a formal complaint, but is not something that we feel can easily be addressed informally (“a Potential Formal Complaint”), we may discuss with you how best to deal with it in all the circumstances and/or send you a copy of the Complaints Procedure. You may then ask to invoke the Complaints Procedure and we may also invoke it if we feel it is the best way of dealing with your complaint.
  5. Whether a complaint is made formally or informally, you will not be charged for the complaints handling process. We would also hope to be able to resolve any complaint without it adversely affecting our future conduct of your matter (or any retainer) in any way. However:
    1. occasionally, a complaint may give rise to a conflict of interests between us which would mean we can no longer act for you under SRA rules, or reflect such a serious deterioration in the relationship (or loss of confidence) that it makes it difficult for us to continue to act for you, or accept new instructions. In the unusual event that we believe our conduct of your matter will be affected by your complaint, we are of course under a duty to explain this to you.
    2. We may need to liaise with our insurers in the event of any circumstances which could give rise to a claim (such as an expression of dissatisfaction). This can cause delay and could affect the way a complaint is handled.
  6. If you feel that you are vulnerable in any respect or have particular needs which make it difficult for you to make a complaint, please mention these at any stage so that we can discuss any ways in which the process can be facilitated.
  7. Formal Complaints Procedure
    1. Where we receive a formal complaint or a Potential Formal Complaint we will normally contact you within 2 working days to acknowledge receipt. In responding, we will aim:

      1. To clarify our understanding of the complaint and what you wish to occur.
      2. To explain
        • the next stage,
        • Whether there are options
        • Whether we need to discuss anything/review files etc
        • What is being done to address the complaint.
      3. To provide a realistic timetable for dealing with the complaint
      4. Where applicable, to explain what effect the Complaint will have on your case.

        (We will also reiterate that you will not be charged for the complaints handling process)

        However, where we feel that we need further clarification of the complaint, we may acknowledge verbally in the first instance, or briefly in writing pending a discussion with you, so that we can fully understand your complaint before sending a written acknowledgement.

    2. We will normally respond to your complaint in the same format as you used to make the complaint (eg replying to an email by email) but we will normally respond to a formal complaint made verbally by email or letter. If you would prefer a particular format, please let us know.
    3. Susan Bullimore is responsible for investigating complaints and she will always try to do so objectively and with an open mind. She may write to you or telephone you to discuss any issues as part of her investigation and will normally review relevant paperwork She will record the steps she took to investigate, and what she found out.
    4. In responding, we will normally
      1. outline the complaint briefly (though we may do this by reference to other documents where appropriate)
      2. explain the decision and how we reached it,
        • explaining why we do not believe we are at fault if that is the case, or
        • if we find evidence of poor service, acknowledging this and apologising (subject to the terms of our insurance contract which may preclude us from unauthorised admissions) and explaining what financial or other remedies (if any) are offered .
        • In either event, we may suggest further action without any admission of liability or fault.
      3. provide details for contacting the Legal Ombudsman and the timeframe for doing so
      4. We will also include information about an approved alternative dispute resolution (ADR) entity
      5. We will always make it clear that
        1. we will monitor any further correspondence for new evidence or areas of complaint not previously considered, and make a note of our consideration.
        2. if further evidence or areas of complaint are raised, we will assess this information and consider appropriate action.
      6. We will generally be happy to respond to any reasonable queries you may have about a decision, but reserve the right to cease or limit further correspondence if we feel the points have already been addressed or are unreasonable in their nature or extent. If we consider that there is nothing further to discuss (in the absence of new evidence), we will explain that we will not continue to correspond on the matter and that we regard the complaint as closed.
  8. If you do not accept our response or if we do not respond to your complaint within eight weeks you can take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.




  9. This Complaints Procedure is written for the use of our clients, but may also be made available at our discretion (and subject to our client’s instructions) to non-clients including those categories of person or institution who are entitled to complain about our services to the Legal Ombudsman. In exercising our discretion we will have regard to all the circumstances, the nature of the complaint and the proportionality of dealing with it in a formal way.
  10. In dealing with complaints from non-clients, in particular beneficiaries, we must have regard to our contractual and tortious duties to our client (in particular the duty of confidentiality) and the extent of our duty of care etc to other parties, and the risk of conflict. This may limit the extent of our response.




  11. We will treat complaints confidentially, subject to the following:

    1. We will discuss complaints internally, record them and review them in accordance with recommended practice. We may retain records for 6 years.
    2. We will provide to the SRA and/or the Legal Ombudsman any information they request from us, including information from or about you which we reasonably consider relates to your complaint.
    3. Subject to our professional duty, we reserve the right to produce any information necessary to protect our reputation from libel or slander and/or in the event of unjustified negative comment being made publicly

    And nothing in this procedure will prevent us from supplying any information requested by the Police, a Court, tribunal, public or regulatory authority.


Bullimore Suggitt