We are committed to providing services of the highest quality to all our clients. If something goes wrong, we need our clients to tell us about it. This will help us to improve our standards. Making a complaint will not affect how we handle your case. All complaints will be dealt with promptly, fairly, and free of charge.
1. Please write to the fee earner with day-to-day conduct of your matter or their supervisor with details of your complaint (‘Informal Complaint’).
2. The fee earner or their supervisor will consider your complaint and contact you (by telephone or in writing) within 7 days of receiving your complaint to discuss a resolution. Often matters can be quickly resolved in this way. If this is not possible, you may ask the fee earner or their supervisor to escalate your complaint to the second stage in this process.
3. If you ask for your complaint to be escalated (‘Formal Complaint’), please set out as clearly as possible in writing the basis for your complaint so we can properly address matters. We will acknowledge your complaint as soon as practicable and enclose a copy of this procedure. We will record receipt of your complaint on our central register.
4. David Bloom, a senior solicitor at SMW, will conduct a full independent investigation of your matter and aim to respond in full within 28 days. If your complaint is of a more complex nature, and Mr Bloom may require more time and will inform you as to when you will receive a full response. Under no circumstances will this investigation take longer than 8 weeks. If the complaint is about Mr Bloom, a Director of SMW will undertake the investigation.
5. Your written response will explain whether your complaint has been upheld – in whole or in part – and the reasons for the decision based on the evidence available. Where your complaint is upheld, we will set out our suggestions for resolving the issues involved. This may include one or more of the following options:
• an apology from the firm
• an explanation of what went wrong and a strategy for resolution
• a reduction, cancellation or wavier of fees
• a payment of compensation
6. This complaints procedure also applies to complaints concerning any bill we raise. There may also be a right to object to the bill by applying to the court for an assessment of the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. If all, or part, of a bill remains unpaid, we may be entitled to charge interest.
What to do if we cannot resolve your complaint
7. If you remain dissatisfied, you may take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman (www.legalombudsman.org.uk)
• within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint; and
• no more than six years from the date of act/omission; or
• no more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.
8. You can contact Legal Ombudsman as follows:
Telephone: 0300 555 0333 between 9am to 5pm
Address: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
9. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) can help you if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic. For information about raising your concerns with the SRA, visit the ‘For the public’ section of their website (www.sra.org.uk).
We aim to ensure that any complaints that clients may have are identified and dealt with in accordance with this procedure.