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
8 Dormer Place
Tel: 01926 820082/3
The Office of the Legal Services Ombudsman
22 Oxford Street
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
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.