Complaints Policy (for mediation complaints see below)

We are committed to providing a high-quality legal service to all of our clients. If, for any reason, you are dissatisfied or disappointed with the service that we provide, we would like to be able to address this with you at the earliest opportunity.

If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of our service, this can be dealt with under our complaints procedure, as follows:

Stage 1

We believe that most complaints are capable of resolution at an early stage. Please raise any difficulties with the fee earner who has conduct of your case, unless it is not appropriate for you to do so. They will be most familiar with your matter and usually best placed to address your concerns. Sometimes complaints arise as a result of a misunderstanding or mis-communication and it should be possible for the fee earner with conduct to identify and resolve any such issues.

If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction at this stage, you can make a formal complaint to the Director or the office manager, under Stage 2.

Stage 2

If the fee earner with conduct of your matter has been unable to resolve the problem you can make a formal written complaint to the director, Lucy Sparks. If your complaint is about the director then please make a complaint to the Office Manager. We aim to resolve all formal complaints within 8 weeks of receipt.

On receipt, your complaint will be allocated to either the director or to a team of the office manager and a solicitor. They will then deal with your complaint in accordance with the procedure, below:

• We will send you a letter acknowledging receipt of your complaint within 7 days of us receiving the complaint, enclosing a copy of this procedure.

• We will then investigate your complaint. This will normally involve passing your complaint to either the director or the team of the office manager and a senior fee earner who will review your file and speak to the member of staff who acted for you.

• If appropriate, we may invite you to attend a meeting to discuss and, hopefully, resolve your complaint. This will be done within 14 days of sending you the acknowledgment letter.

• Within 7 days of the meeting, the director or the office manager will write to you to confirm what took place and to set out what resolutions, if any, were agreed.

• If you do not want a meeting or it is not possible, the director or the office manager will send you a detailed written reply to your complaint, including our suggestions for resolving the matter, within 21 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter.

• At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, you should contact us again and we will arrange for another solicitor to review the director’s/office manager’s decision or invite you to agree to independent mediation. We will write to you within 21 days of receiving your request for a review, confirming our final position on your complaint and explaining our reasons.

• If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will let you know and explain why.

• We make every effort to resolve complaints, where possible. If you remain unsatisfied at the conclusion of our complaints procedure, you may make a formal complaint to the Legal Ombudsman: PO Box 6806,Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ, Tel: 03005550333 or 01212453050, Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk

There are time limits within which complaints must be made to the Legal Ombudsman, as indicated below:

• Your complaint should be made to the Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final response from us 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.

 

Complaints policy for mediation clients

We are committed to providing a high-quality service. If something goes wrong we want you to tell us. In most cases, we hope that a conversation between us will resolve any issues.

If you are a client, former client, prospective client or somebody who has been invited to participate in the mediation process and wish to make a formal complaint, you can do so within three months of the event you wish to complain about. For avoidance of doubt, complaints that relate to the way a mediation was conducted as a whole, the date the three months runs from is the last mediation session.

Our internal complaints procedure is commenced should we receive a formal complaint, at which time the complaint will be allocated to either the director or the office manager. An acknowledgement of your complaint will be sent in writing within 5 days. We will then investigate the complaint and will respond in writing within 14 days of receiving your complaint in writing.

If we cannot resolve the complaint in writing, we may invite you to attend a meeting. All mediators are required to have a professional practice consultant (PPC) and we are obliged to tell our PPCs about any complaint and they may also be in attendance at this meeting. We will of course advise you in advance if a PPC is intending to attend the meeting. We will write to you within 7 days of the meeting to confirm the outcome.

If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will let you know in writing and explain why.

If you remain dissatisfied and no more than 3 months have passed since your original complaint was made, you may complain to the FMSB by completing their complaint form which you can download here . Once completed, please send this form and any supporting documents to complaints@familymediationcouncil.org.uk
The FMC’s complaints process can be found here: www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/complaints-about-mediators/

Complaints that appear to be vexatious or of a purely personal nature do not have to be investigated. Complaints can be considered vexatious when:

• the purpose appears to be to intimidate, disturb, disrupt and/or unduly or unfairly pressurise the mediator or the FMSB;
• they are persistent/repetitive, and repeating the same or substantially similar complaints which have already been investigated;
• they are clearly unfounded and unsupported by evidence;
• they are irrelevant and relate to matters other than mediation;
• abusive or offensive language is used;
• complaints are of a purely personal nature if they are discriminatory or focus on the personal attributes or circumstances of a mediator rather than their actions as a mediator.