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solicitor complaints

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There are three sorts of complaints you might have against a solicitor: a complaint about charges being too high, a general complaint about the way you have been dealt with by your solicitor, or a complaint involving negligence by your solicitor. In all cases you should complain in the first instance to the firm itself so that if possible, your grievance can be settled without taking the matter further. If the solicitor who has acted for you will not address your complaint, you should refer the matter to the senior partner in the firm, or the partner who has specific responsibility for dealing with complaints. If your complaint is not resolved in this way, the action you take next will depend on the nature of your complaint.

Complaints about overcharging

Once you have tried to resolve this informally, for matters which have not involved court proceedings, you can ask your solicitor to apply to the Law Society for a Remuneration Certificate. For further information about this you can call the Remuneration Certificate enquiry line on 01926 822022. Alternatively, if court proceedings were issued, you will need to apply to the court for taxation of your solicitors' bill. You should note that this might involve you in further costs, particularly if the bill is reduced by less than twenty per cent of its original total.

Complaints about professional conduct

If your complaint is about the way your lawyer has handled your case or how he or she has acted towards you, you can contact the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors. The OSS will investigate complaints of poor service and/or misconduct made against any solicitor in England or Wales. The OSS can order compensation up to £1,000, require a solicitor to correct a mistake, or discipline a solicitor for misconduct. If you are dissatisfied with a decision of the OSS, or the way your complaint was handled by them, you have three months from the date of their decision to refer the matter to the Legal Services Ombudsman. This Ombudsman is appointed by the Lord Chancellor to ensure that the handling of complaints by the legal profession is well regulated.

Complaints about negligence

Complaints of this sort should also go in the first instance to the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors. The OSS will review the complaint and if appropriate will refer the matter to one of the solicitors on their Negligence Panel. These are independent solicitors who have volunteered to give one hour's free advice on whether a solicitor was negligent and, if so, what to do next. Ultimately it may be necessary for you to take action in the courts to obtain compensation for the negligence of a solicitor. Enquiries should be directed to:

The Office for the Supervision of Solicitors
Victoria Court
8 Dormer Place
Leamington Spa
Warwickshire
CV32 5AE
Tel: 01926 820082/3

www.lawsociety.org.uk

The Office of the Legal Services Ombudsman
22 Oxford Street
Manchester
M2 3WQ
Tel: 0161 236 9532

Complaints about other peoples solicitors

If your complaint is about someone else's solicitor, the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors can only help if it involves professional misconduct. They cannot investigate your complaint about the poor service given by someone else's solicitor.

If you complain about the way someone else's solicitor has behaved, they can only help you if the solicitor has breached - broken - the rules of professional conduct which all solicitors must follow. Often, a solicitor will just be doing what is best for their client and not what is best for any other person who may be involved.

If you complain about the conduct of someone else's solicitor, the OSS does not have the power pay you any compensation even if they approve your complaint.

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