Our Complaints Policy
Have you got a complaint against Daniel Woodman & Co Ltd?
We hope that you will never have reason to complain about our service to you or a bill of costs that we send to you. However, if something does go wrong or the bill appears to be incorrect, please bring it to our attention as soon as you can. We will try to resolve the matter fairly and quickly. We will apologise if need be and do our best to offer a practical solution.
A preliminary point
The relationship with your solicitor is built on trust and openness. You should be able to talk to your solicitor frankly about all sorts of things so that some complaints (and these are likely to be minor issues) might lend themselves to be resolved by a simple phone call with your solicitor. However, if you are not comfortable speaking to your solicitor about the problem then please contact Daniel Woodman.
How do I complain?
We much prefer that substantial or complicated complaints are dealt with in writing – we do not have any set forms that we use for this purpose. However, we realise that not all clients may be able to formulate a detailed letter. In such cases, a telephone call will do or alternatively a meeting can be arranged to discuss your complaint, during which in either event we will make a note of the issues and then send that to you for comment. This document will then form the basis of the complaint.
Who do I complain to?
Our system is that, wherever possible, complaints are resolved with the solicitor handling your case. However, should this prove not possible or you do not feel comfortable doing so you should look at the “Client Care” letter that you were sent at the start of your case. It will name the person in the firm to whom you should address your complaint.
Although you should know the name of the person dealing with your case, the reference in the top left hand corner of our letters will tell you the name of the fee-earner who has been dealing with your case (the first initials).
The person dealing with your complaint will also inform our Billing Clerk, Ben Fews that a complaint has been made for our complaints file and so that he can monitor progress of the complaint.
We hope that this simple procedure will deal with your concerns.
What will happen next?
Upon receipt of your complaint we will then investigate the matter. This will normally involve passing your complaint to Daniel Woodman who will review your matter file and speak to the member of staff who acted for you. Should the solicitor who dealt with your matter file be Daniel Woodman your file will be passed to our designated complaints handler, Ben Fews.
Daniel Woodman or Ben Fews will then write to you with his findings within 14 days of receipt of your complaint. He will send you a detailed written reply to your complaint, including his suggestions for resolving the matter. However, if the complaint is complicated further time may be needed. If so, Daniel Woodman will write and tell you and suggest an extension of the time limit to enable matters to be further looked into.
At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, you should contact us again and we will arrange for another member of staff unconnected with the matter at the firm to review his decision. In some cases, an appropriate alternative at this stage might be mediation to review the decision.
We will write to you within 28 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.
If, after we have considered your complaint, you are still not satisfied, you can contact:
PO Box 6806
The Legal Ombudsman is an independent body that handles complaints about legal services. Its telephone number is 0300 555 0333 and their website is www.legalombudsman.org.uk
The Legal Ombudsman has produced three helpful booklets to guide you if you have a complaint. You can find them on the Legal Ombudsman’s website. They are called Here to Help, Making a complaint and Guide to good complaints handling.
You can ask the Legal Ombudsman to become involved at the end our internal complaints procedure, if you are unhappy with the outcome. The Legal Ombudsman has a helpline if you need to speak to them about how to make a complaint. Calls are charged at a local rate and will be recorded. There is no charge for the Ombudsman’s services. The number is as listed above.
Any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of the date of our final written response on your complaint.
Legal Ombudsman’s time limits
Please see the Ombudsman’s guide “What to do if you have a complaint” for more detail.
The Ombudsman will allow us a period of 8 weeks to resolve your complaint. The Ombudsman asks that you come to it as soon as you can and within 6 months of your last contact with us.
Ordinarily, you must make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within a year of the matter giving rise to the complaint or a year from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint without taking advice from a third party, whichever is later. The Legal Ombudsman can increase any time limit in exceptional circumstances eg if there is serious illness.
There are special rules about your right to apply for a remuneration certificate. You have either one month from the date of the bill to apply in writing where the information appears on the back of our bill, or where you have not been told of your right to apply for a certificate, 3 months from the date of the bill.
If you have a complaint about any of the people that we employ who are not solicitors then you should write to Ben Fews.
Complaints regarding a data subject request under the Data Protection Act 1998 are dealt with in accordance with this policy.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
We are required to inform you about ADR. This is another form of mediation separate to the Legal Ombudsman. Approved ADR bodies such as ProMediate (https://www.promediate.co.uk/) are available to deal with complaints about legal services and you can find more about ADR online if you wish. We do not agree to use any companies within the ADR scheme in all cases but may be willing to do so in appropriate cases. This does not prevent you from contacting the Legal Ombudsman about your complaint as set out above, and we will fully co-operate with them should you do so.
This procedure does not apply:
- To cases where you consider we have been negligent.
- Any other situation where we have a professional obligation to refer you to another Solicitor.
- If your complaint concerns dishonesty, taking or losing your money or discrimination in which case you can raise these issues with the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Please see their website and go to their consumer/problems report-solicitor page.
- The Legal Ombudsman may not consider a complaint about a bill if an application has been made to the Court for assessment.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority address is:
199 Wharfside Street