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Complaints about legal advisers

If you're unhappy about the service you have received from your legal adviser, you may wish to make a complaint. You can do this by using the firm's complaints procedure. If this does not resolve the matter, you can then complain to the Legal Ombudsman.

This page explains how to make a complaint about your legal adviser.

What can you complain about?

If you are unhappy with the service you have received from your legal adviser, you may wish to make a complaint. For example, you may have had a problem with delays in your case, costs or loss of paperwork.

If your legal adviser has been negligent or has discriminated against you, you may be able to take legal action against the solicitor as well as making a complaint. You will need to get legal advice.

Top Tips

In your complaint letter, you should outline the reasons for your complaint giving dates and examples and what action you would like the legal adviser to take to resolve the problem.

You can find a template of a complaint letter. Go to the Legal Ombudsman website at www.legalombudsman.org.uk .

Using the firm's internal complaints procedure

You must first try to resolve the complaint by discussing it with your legal adviser. If this does not work you can use the firm's complaints procedure. All firms must have a written complaints procedure and the firm will tell you who to contact if you have a problem with the legal adviser handling the case. The legal adviser must give you a copy of the complaints procedure if you ask for it.

If this does not resolve the matter, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman.

The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints against:

  • solicitors
  • barristers
  • claims management companies
  • legal executives
  • licensed conveyancers
  • law costs draftsmen
  • notaries
  • patent attorneys
  • probate practitioners
  • registered European lawyers
  • trade mark attorneys
  • any business responsible for these people.

If you are unsure about whether the Legal Ombudsman can deal with your complaint, you can telephone their helpline number for further advice.

You must contact the Legal Ombudsman within six months of the final response from your legal adviser. You should give them:

  • details of the name and address of your legal adviser
  • the date you told your legal adviser about your complaint
  • details of the response you received.

The Legal Ombudsman will first try to resolve your complaint informally. If this is not possible, they will investigate your complaint formally and you will have a chance to put your case in writing.

If you accept the Legal Ombudsman's decision, it will be final and binding on you.

If the Legal Ombudsman agrees that your legal adviser's service has been unsatisfactory, they can ask your legal adviser to do any of the following:

  • apologise to you
  • give you back any documents you might need
  • pay you compensation for loss, inconvenience or distress (up to £50,000)
  • to put things right if more work can correct what went wrong
  • refund or reduce legal fees.

You can contact the Legal Ombudsman at:

Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 6806
Wolverhampton
WV1 9WJ

Tel: 0300 555 0333 (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm)
Minicom: 0300 555 1777
E-mail: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk
Website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk

Referring your complaint to a regulatory body

If the Legal Ombudsman believes your legal adviser may have broken any of the rules of professional conduct, they will refer your complaint to the appropriate regulatory body. For example, if your complaint is against your solicitor, your case will be referred to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). They can investigate the matter and in serious cases the solicitor could be disciplined or struck off. This would mean they could no longer work as a solicitor.

The SRA can also help you to get your money back if you have lost out because of your solicitor's dishonesty or actions.

  • More about getting help from the SRA if your solicitor has been dishonest at www.sra.org.uk
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