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A Consumer’s Guide to Navigating Complaints Against Solicitors

Complaints Against Solicitors

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Unfortunately, not all solicitors act ethically. As a consumer, it can be daunting to navigate the legal system. So, understand how to make a complaints against solicitors and what to expect during the process.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between a complaint and a grievance. Secondly, a complaint is a formal expression of dissatisfaction. However, a grievance is a specific complaint related to a solicitor’s conduct.

Next, it’s crucial to gather evidence to support your complaint. Plus, this can include emails, contracts, and any other relevant documents. Additionally, it’s important to know the right regulatory body to address your complaint.

Lastly, understand that making complaints about a solicitor does not guarantee a favourable outcome. However, it’s a step towards holding them accountable for their actions.

What is a Complaint?

Third-party complaints against solicitors can take many forms. Some common examples include:

  • Unsatisfactory service or advice
  • Failure to provide regular updates on the progress of your case
  • Overcharging for services
  • Unprofessional or unethical conduct
  • Discrimination or harassment

All things considered, note that a complaint shouldn’t be confused with dissatisfaction with the outcome of a case. While you may be unhappy with the outcome, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the solicitor acted improperly.

Making Complaints Against Solicitors

There are several avenues available to make complaints against solicitors. So, choose the appropriate avenue based on the complaint’s nature and the issue’s severity.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

The SRA is the regulatory body for solicitors in England and Wales. Significantly, they investigate complaints about a solicitor. Also, they impose sanctions if a solicitor is found to have acted improperly. To make a complaint to the SRA, fill out the online complaint form on their website. Moreover, you can send a letter outlining your complaint to their address.

The Legal Ombudsman (Leo)

Leo is an independent service that can help resolve complaints against solicitors. Apart from that, they can investigate complaints and recommend how to resolve the issue to the solicitor. To make a complaint to Leo, fill out the online complaint form on their website, or call their helpline.

The Law Society

The Law Society is the professional body for solicitors in England and Wales. In other words, they don’t have the power to investigate complaints. However, they provide guidance and support to individuals making a complaint. Moreover, you can contact the Law Society to discuss your complaint and for information on how to proceed.

The Legal Complaints Service (LCS)

Particularly, the LCS is a government-funded service that can help resolve complaints about solicitors. In addition, they investigate complaints and recommend the solicitor to resolve them. To make a complaint to the LCS, fill out the online complaint form on their website or call their helpline.

Common Types of Complaints Against Solicitors

Type of ComplaintDescriptionExamplesConsequences
Unsatisfactory service or adviceThe solicitor did not provide a satisfactory level of service or advice.Failure to return phone calls, providing incorrect or incomplete advice. Also, not keeping the client informed of the progress of the case.The solicitor may be required to provide an apology, additional service, or compensation.
OverchargingThe solicitor charged more than the agreed fee or more than is reasonable for the service provided.Billing for unnecessary work, charging for disbursements without prior agreement. Also, charging for work that was not done.The solicitor may be required to refund the overcharged amount or adjust the fee.
Unprofessional or unethical conductThe solicitor acted in a way that is considered unprofessional or unethical.Discrimination, harassment, dishonesty, conflicts of interest.The solicitor may be subject to disciplinary action, including suspension or disbarment.
Discrimination or harassmentThe solicitor discriminated against or harassed the client based on a protected characteristic.Refusing to take on a client because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.The solicitor may be subject to disciplinary action, including suspension or disbarment.

Navigating the Complaint Process

On the negative side, the complaint process can be daunting. Fortunately, you can take steps to make it as smooth as possible.

Gather Evidence

Equally important, collect relevant documentation such as emails or letters to support your complaint. In addition, this will help to strengthen your case. Particularly, this demonstrates that you have taken steps to resolve the issue before making a complaint.

Be Specific

The first thing to remember, clearly outline the issue or problem in your complaint. With this in mind, include specific details and dates. Moreover, this will help the person or organization investigating the complaint.

Be Professional

Writing a complaint can be emotional, but it’s important to remain professional in your correspondence. Therefore, avoid using offensive language or making personal attacks.

Be Patient

Truly, the complaint process can take time. So, it may be several weeks or months before a resolution is reached. Another key point, be patient because the person or organization is working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Keep a Record

Equally important, record all correspondence and communication related to your complaint. Additionally, this includes emails, letters, and notes from phone calls. Also, this will help you keep track of your complaint’s progress. Furthermore, it’ll be useful to escalate the complaint to a higher authority.

Be Open to Settlement

In the first place, consider if it’s a fair and reasonable solution to the problem. If a resolution is offered to you, be open to it. If you’re unsatisfied with the proposed resolution, discuss this with the person or organization investigating the complaint.

Get Support

If you find the complaint process overwhelming, consider seeking support from a legal advisor or a support group. Moreover, they can guide you and help you navigate the process.

Comparison of Complaint Avenues

Complaint AvenuesInvestigation PowerSanction PowerTime Limit to File a Complaint
Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)YesYesWithin 3 years of the date of the incident or within 3 years of the date the incident came to light.
Legal Ombudsman (Leo)YesNoWithin 6 years of the date of the incident or within 3 years of the incident’s coming to light.
Law SocietyNoNoN/A
Legal Complaints Service (LCS)YesNoWithin 6 years of the date of the incident or within 3 years of the incident’s coming to light.

What is Misconduct by A Solicitor?

In the UK, this refers to any behaviour that falls below the standards of professionalism and ethical conduct expected of solicitors. However, misconduct can take many forms and can include:

  • Failure to provide a satisfactory standard of service or advice
  • Overcharging or dishonest billing practices
  • Failure to maintain client confidentiality
  • Acting without proper authorization
  • Discrimination or harassment
  • Acting with a conflict of interest
  • Failing to comply with regulatory requirements
  • Failure to maintain proper accounting records
  • Failing to comply with court orders or rules
  • Acting in a way that brings the profession into disrepute

In other words, misconduct is a serious issue and can lead to disciplinary action such as fines, suspension or disbarment. If you suspect misconduct by a solicitor, contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or other appropriate bodies.

What Do You need to Know About Solicitor Complaint Letter Template?

Sometimes, people have bad experiences with their solicitors. If this happens, it’s important to tell someone about it so it can be fixed. One way to do this is by writing a letter using a special kind of letter called a solicitor complaint letter template.

Format of the Letter

Notably, a solicitor complaint letter template usually has a specific format that you should follow. First, you should put your name, address and contact information. Then, write the date. Next, you should write the name and address of the person you’re sending the letter to. After that, write the subject of your letter, which is that you’re making a complaint about a solicitor.

Points to include in the letter

When writing your letter, it is important to include certain points. First, you should include the date of the problem, the solicitor’s name and a clear explanation of what they did wrong. Also, include any proof you have, like pictures or receipts. Additionally, it is important to use a polite tone and avoid using rude words.

Closing the Letter

After you’ve written about your bad experience, close the letter by thanking the person for taking the time to read it and for their attention. Also, mention that you’re looking forward to hearing from them and that you can answer any questions they might have.

Sending the letter

After you’ve finished writing the letter using the template, you should send it to the solicitor’s boss or the Solicitors Regulation Authority. In addition, keep a copy for yourself and follow up to ensure they received it and that it is being dealt with.

Wrapping Up – Complaints about a Solicitor

In summary, making a complaint about solicitors can be challenging. However, remember that avenues are available to help you resolve the issue. Identifying the problem, choosing the appropriate complaint avenue, gathering evidence, and the remaining patient is important. However, you can navigate the complaint process effectively and find a fair and reasonable resolution.

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