Complaints Policy

It is important that those in positions of responsibility within Heald Nickinson are aware of anything which may have gone wrong.  For example the SRA Code of Conduct requires us to:

  • deal with clients’ complaints promptly, fairly, openly and effectively
  • inform clients if we discover any act or omission which could give rise to a claim by them against us
  • identify, monitor and manage risks, and take steps to address issues identified

However this is more than a professional responsibility.  Being frank about such matters helps us to build the firm, by learning from mistakes or misunderstandings. Improving our standards and retaining our reputation and the goodwill of our clients.  This policy explains your obligations in these areas.

Our complaints procedure is below.  It explains to clients how we will handle their concerns if they feel something has gone wrong.  Whenever a client complains about our service, or about the bill, we must use that procedure.  Even if a complaint is malicious or misconceived we must respond courteously and handle it effectively.

Accordingly, if a complaint is made by or on behalf of a client, notify our complaints partner, who is Tony Struve, the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP).  He will handle the matter as set out in our complaints procedure.

Note that the definition of a “complaint” in the SRA Code of Conduct is “an oral or written expression of dissatisfaction which alleges that the complainant has suffered or may suffer financial loss, distress, inconvenience or other detriment”.  If you are not sure if a comment from a client amounts to a complaint, ask if they wish the matter to be handled under our complaints procedure.

If any client asks about our complaints procedure, you should send them a copy.

Prospective and Former Clients

You should not ignore or dismiss a complaint merely because it is from a prospective or former client.

Former clients are obviously entitled to complain about our service.

Complaints from prospective clients are likely to be rare.  However, they can arise e.g. if someone has disappointed by our refusal to act for them.  Prospective clients may complain to the Legal Ombudsman, if they are not satisfied with the way we handle their complaint.  Under the SRA Code of Conduct the word “clients” includes prospective and former clients, where the context permits.  Hence we should, with appropriate allowance of the circumstances, apply our complaints procedure if we receive a complaint from a prospective client.

Your General Duty to Report

Even if there has not been a complaint, you must promptly report possible mistakes and misconduct of which you are aware to the partner supervising the relevant matter, or to the COLP.  Do not yourself admit liability to clients or third parties since this might prejudice our insurance cover.

Your obligation to report extends to an allegation by a client or third party that there has been a mistake or misconduct, even if you believe that allegation is malicious or misconceived.

Failure to make a report may be treated as a serious disciplinary matter.

Review of policy

The COLP will review the Complaints Policy and the Central Complaints Register every 12 months and report to the Partners' Quarterly meeting as part of the Risk Management Policy review.

August 2016

Get in touch

Call us on 01276 680000

If you are a consumer and we have made contact with you by electronic means, you may be entitled to use an EU online dispute resolution service to assist with any contractual dispute you may have with us. That is at http://ec.europa.eu/commission/index_en

Call us on 01276 680000
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