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Complaints Policy

Woolliscrofts Solicitors are committed to providing a high-quality legal service to all of our clients. When something goes wrong, we need you to tell us about it.  This will help us to sort out any mistakes or misunderstandings, and to improve our standards.

We regard any oral or written expression of dissatisfaction which alleges actual or potential financial loss, distress, inconvenience, or other detriment as falling within the definition of a “Complaint” for the purposes of the operation of our internal Complaints Procedure.

Please be assured that any complaint will be dealt with fairly, without charge to you and as promptly as possible.

If you are unhappy with a bill which you have received from us, then you should also be aware that, in addition to the availability of our Internal Complaints Procedure, Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974 also contains provisions which provide you with the right to object to a Solicitor’s bill and to apply to the Court for an assessment of the bill.

What should I do if I wish to complain?

In the first instance, clients are generally invited to raise any concerns or complaints which they may have with the lawyer who is dealing with their matter, as most in most cases an informal chat with the lawyer responsible for your matter will resolve your concerns – and many concerns or issues prove capable of being swiftly resolved in that way without the necessity for proceeding to embark upon the more formal stages of Woolliscrofts Internal Complaints Procedure (as outlined below).

If, however, a client has a complaint which either the lawyer dealing with their matter has been unable to resolve (or otherwise failed to resolve) to their satisfaction, or if the client feels unwilling or unable to raise their concerns or complaint with the lawyer who is actually dealing with their matter, then clients are invited to contact the Director or Manager of this Practice who has responsibility for dealing with any complaints (details of whom appear in the following paragraph).

Who do I complain to?

If you have a complaint which you have been unable to resolve to your satisfaction with the lawyer dealing with your matter within a single telephone call (or which you have felt unwilling or unable to raise with the lawyer dealing with your matter) then, unless the complaint involves our Client Care Director, Mr Christopher Mason, please contact Chris Mason.  You can write to him at 6-10 Broad Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 4EU or by e-mail to  clearly marking your letter or e-mail ‘FORMAL COMPLAINT’ at the top. If your complaint involves Chris Mason or Shelley Brydon-Mason your complaint should instead be addressed to Andrew J. Barnett (Solicitor & Practice Manager) at either the same postal address or by e-mail to .

If the relevant named individual for the purpose of handling any given complaint received by this Practice is absent from the office for a prolonged period (e.g. to extended periods of Holiday Leave or Sick Leave) then either Andrew Barnett (in the absence of Chris Mason) or, in the case of the absence of Andrew Barnett in relation to any complaint involving Mr Mason, Mr Ray Basnett will either deal with the complaint personally or, alternatively, arrange for your complaint to be dealt with an appropriate alternative Director or Manager of this Practice. Shorter periods of Holiday or Sick Leave may, however, instead be dealt with in the manner described within numbered paragraph 20 below.

What will happen next?
  1. We will send you a letter or e-mail acknowledging your letter of complaint. You can generally expect to receive our letter within three working days of us receiving your written complaint. At the time of acknowledging receipt of your Complaint it may be necessary for this Practice to invite you to clarify your Complaint and / or to provide this Practice with further information.
  2. We will record your Complaint in our Central Complaints Register and open a file for your Complaint. We will endeavour to do this within one working day of acknowledging receipt of your written Complaint.
  3. We will then start to investigate your Complaint(s):
    1. We will ask the member of staff who acted for you and / or any other member of staff who may be of relevant to your Complaint(s) to give his or her comments on your Complaint(s) within five working days.
    2. We will examine his or her reply and the information in your file. We may need to ask them (and / or possibly yourself) for more information.
  4. Within 14 days of sending you the initial letter acknowledging your Complaint(s) or letter of clarification (whichever is the later) the Director or Manager dealing with your Complaint(s) will endeavour to invite you to a meeting to discuss and, hopefully, resolve your Complaint(s). If you do not want a meeting, or it is not practical or possible for a meeting to take place, the Director or Manager dealing with your Complaint(s) may instead offer you a chance to discuss the matter by telephone and / or invite your agreement to your Complaint(s) being dealt with in writing.
  5. ithin three days of the meeting (or any telephone conversation we have with you instead of a meeting) the Director or Manager dealing with your Complaint(s) will endeavour to write to you to confirm what took place and any solutions we have agreed with you.
  6. In any case the Director or Manager dealing within your Complaint will (subject to promptly receiving any clarification requested by us) endeavour to send to you within 21 days of sending you the written acknowledgement of your complaint referred to in paragraph 1 above a detailed written response to your Complaint(s), including (where appropriate) their suggestions for resolving the matter.
What happens if I am dissatisfied with the outcome of the initial investigation into my complaint(s)?
  1. At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, you should contact us again in writing within 1 month of the written response referred to within numbered paragraph 6 above to request a Review of that decision. In light of the fact that you do not accept the original decision this will be considered to be a rejection of that original decision by you. Upon receiving such a request for a Review, we will then arrange for the original decision to be reviewed.  This will happen in one of the following ways:
    1. Usually another Solicitor (generally our Practice Manager, Andrew Barnett, unless he made the original decision subject to review) who was not involved in making the original decision in relation to your complaint will endeavour to review the original decision within 14 days of receiving your request for a review confirming our final position on your complaint and explaining our reasons. In light of your rejection of the original decision the decision made on Review may be different, less or more favourable than the original decision.At the conclusion of such a Review, this Practice may, in its absolute discretion, consider it appropriate to invite you to agree to independent conciliation or mediation if you still remain unhappy with the outcome of our Internal Review, even if this Practice initially decided to proceed with the Review upon the basis of option a in preference to options b. or c. below.
    2. We may ask our local Law Society or another local firm of solicitors to review your complaint within five working days. We will let you know how long this process will take.
    3. We may invite you to agree to independent conciliation or mediation within five working days. We will let you know how long this process will take.
  2. In the case of options 7 b. or 7 c. above, we will endeavour to let you know the result of the Review within five working days of the end of the Review. At this time we will write to you to provide you with the Final Response of this Practice to your Complaint(s) and explaining our reasons.
What happens if I am dissatisfied with the outcome of the Review?
  1. If you have exhausted our internal escalation process yet remain dissatisfied, or a period of eight weeks has expired since we acknowledged your complaint without our final response being received, you are entitled to refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman will look at the complaint independently and any investigation by them will not affect how we handle your case.
  2. Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check:
    1. that you have tried to resolve the complaint with us in the first instance; and
    2. that you have suffered significant financial loss, distress, inconvenience or detriment, which it deems it proportionate for them to investigate. We will always be happy to discuss your issues further, prior to you going down this route, if you wish to do so.
  3. For complaints about our service, including billing issues, you may contact the Legal Ombudsman via one of the methods below:
  4. Any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of the date of our final written response to your complaint. You should also be aware that the Ombudsman will consider your complaint if you refer it on to them within either of the following:
    • one year from the date of the act or omission being complained about; OR
    • one year from the date when you should reasonably have known that was cause for complaint.

    The Ombudsman has discretion to extend the one year time limit for specific customers if, on the evidence, it is fair and reasonable to do so.

  5. Please note that the Legal Ombudsman service cannot be used by businesses or most other organisations, unless they are below certain size limits. Further details are available from the Legal Ombudsman’s website.
  6. It is worth considering, whilst it is open to you to submit a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, they apply strict criteria to determine whether they will ultimately accept a complaint for a full investigation. They have the discretion to dismiss or discontinue all or part of a complaint if they believe:
    1. it does not have any reasonable prospects of success;
    2. you have not suffered (and are unlikely to suffer) significant financial loss, distress, inconvenience or detriment;
    3. it is frivolous, vexatious, lacks merit or where there is a compelling reason not to accept it;
    4. the likely impact, size, complexity, scope, volume of evidence or your conduct render it disproportionate/unreasonable/impossible for the complaint to be investigated;
    5. you have previously complained about the same issue to them, unless you provide material evidence that is likely to affect the outcome which only became available to you after you submitted the original complaint; and / or
    6. there has been undue delay in the complaint being raised.

    Please also note that:

    1. If, during the course of an ongoing investigation by the Ombudsman, a revised / increased offer is made by us which is deemed to be fair and reasonable redress and you decide to reject that offer, the Ombudsman has the discretion to dismiss or discontinue all or part of your complaint; and
    2. If you have already accepted an offer to settle your complaint made by us during our internal complaint handling process, which is deemed to be fair and reasonable redress, unless there has been some significant intervening act, you will not be able to have that agreement overturned in the hope of securing a preferential outcome by pursuing your complaint via the Ombudsman.For more information on the Legal Ombudsman’s rules and requirements, please see their Scheme Rules dated April 2023.
What to do if you are unhappy with our behaviour
  1. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) can help 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.
  2. Visit the ‘Reporting an individual or firm’ page of their website to see how you can raise your concerns with the SRA.
What to do if your complaint relates to an insurance policy
  1. If your unresolved complaint relates to an insurance policy covering your case, you may contact the Financial Ombudsman Service:
What to do if your complaint remains unresolved
  1. We are obliged to inform you that If a complaint cannot be resolved, you may also be able to ask for it to be referred to a process of alternative dispute resolution using a certified provider (such as ProMediate – Woolliscrofts Solicitors are not, however, required to agree to such a request. In any case this is not available to businesses, only consumers. We will give you more information about this right if it becomes relevant. Unless Woolliscrofts Solicitors Limited expressly agree with you to the contrary in writing, we do not agree to use any Alternative Complaints Body.
Time Limits
  1. In deciding whether Woolliscrofts Solicitors Limited should deal with any expressions of dissatisfaction in accordance with our Internal Complaints Procedure Woolliscrofts Solicitors Limited apply similar criteria to the time limits contained within the Scheme Rules of the Legal Ombudsman. Accordingly, Woolliscrofts Solicitors Limited reserve the right to reject Complaints solely upon the basis that they have been made out of time.
  2. If we have to change any of the timescales above (and this may sometimes be unavoidable due to the nature and / or complexity of the complaint and any pre-existing commitments of any of the people involved in the complaint), we will let you know and explain why.
  3. If no written Request for a Review is received by this Practice within the period of 1 month referred to within numbered paragraph 7 above, then (entirely without prejudice to what is said within numbered paragraph 12 below) the original decision made by this Practice is response to your Complaint(s) is to be treated as if it were a Final Response of this Practice for the purpose of triggering the commencement of the 6 month period referred to within the second sentence of numbered paragraph 12 above.
  4. Notwithstanding what is said within numbered paragraph 21 above, if you do not request a Review of the original decision of this Practice within the period of 1 month referred to within numbered paragraph 7 above but the Legal Ombudsman subsequently indicates a willingness to accept a complaint from you, then this Practice reserves the right to request that the Legal Ombudsman provide this Practice with an opportunity to invoke the Review Phase of our Internal Complaints Procedure prior to the Legal Ombudsman Service undertaking an investigation and / or proceeding to make an decisions upon your Complaint(s). For the avoidance of doubt, however, nothing contained within this paragraph is to be regarded as in any way extending the 6 month period referred to within the second sentence of numbered paragraph 12 above.
Equality & Diversity
  1. If you have any disability or other difficulty which you believe puts you at a disadvantage as a result of having your Complaint(s) handled in the manner set out above, then please immediately bring your concern(s) to the attention of the Director dealing with your Complaint(s), in order that the Director concerned can give consideration to the possible need for reasonable adjustments to be made to the procedure outlined above in order to accommodate your concerns.

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