This Complaints Handling Procedure (CHP) explains how we will deal with your complaint and how long we will to take to do so. It also provides you with important information about what you can do if you are not happy with our investigation process, or about our final decision.
Designated complaints handler
If you have any concerns about our charges, our services or our work, you should discuss these in the first instance with the individual who has day-to-day control of your matter.
If this person cannot, or does not, satisfactorily address your concerns and you wish to make a formal complaint, please contact William Hoyland, who is the complaints handling Partner of the firm. You should clearly set out your reasons for complaining in writing and send your complaint to: Pennine Law, Riversdale, 34 Market Street, Hoyland Nether, Barnsley, S74 9QR marked for the attention of William Hoyland.
Stage 1: Acknowledging your complaint
Within 7 working days of receiving your written complaint, it will be recorded in our Complaints Register. An investigation will be commenced by the complaints handling Partner, which will involve a review of your matter file and any other correspondence and other documents relating to your complaint, along with discussions with relevant staff members. We will also send you an acknowledgement of your complaint.
Stage 2: Investigating your complaint
Within 21 working days of receiving your complaint, we will review your matter file and any other relevant correspondence or documentation. We will send you initial correspondence explaining the manner in which we propose to deal with your complaint. We may ask you to clarify, confirm or explain any issues you raise and we may ask for more information. We might suggest a face-to-face meeting and would try and arrange such a meeting within 21 working days of first receipt of your complaint. Within 7 working days of any meeting, we will write to you, to confirm what was discussed, what took place and further to confirm any offer of redress that we have made. If you would prefer not to meet, where we cannot arrange this within an agreeable timescale, or where such a meeting is outside of our control, we will write to you, fully setting out our views on the complaint and making suggestions as to how we might put matters right. Whichever form our investigation takes, we will aim to give you our final decision within eight weeks of receiving your complaint.
Stage 3: Appealing against our final decision
If you are not satisfied with our final decision, please let us know, in writing, that you wish to appeal our decision, stating your justification and any information that you wish us to consider. We will let you know the result of the appeal within 15 working days of receiving your appeal. If you remain dissatisfied upon receipt of our reviewed decision, you can contact the Legal Ombudsman about your complaint. We will also advise you whether we are prepared to engage in alternative methods of mediation.
Stage 4: The Legal Ombudsman
You may refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman (LeO). Ordinarily, you will not be entitled to refer your complaint to LeO until you have exhausted our CHP. However, you may contact LeO:
- If the complaint has not been resolved to your satisfaction within eight weeks of first making the complaint to us; or
- LeO decides that there are exceptional reasons why LeO should consider your complaint sooner, or without you having to use our CHP first; or
- LeO considers that your complaint cannot be resolved using our CHP, because the relationship between you and us has broken down irretrievably.
If you do decide to refer your complaint to LeO, you must do so within six months of the later of the date of our final decision or the date of our reviewed decision, where you have appealed. The relevant time limits for complaining to LeO are set out in the version of LeO’s scheme rules in force from time to time (which are available online at www.legalombudsman.org.uk or upon request from LeO).
The Legal Ombudsman expects complaints to be made to them within one year of the date of the act or omission about which you are concerned, or within one year of you realising there was a concern.
There are restrictions on the type of individuals and entities that may make a complaint about our services to LeO. Please refer to LeO’s website for further information.
Contact details for the Legal Ombudsman
Alternative dispute resolution
Alternative complaints bodies, such as ProMediate UK Ltd (www.promediate.co.uk) exist and are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and this firm wish to use such a scheme. We do not usually agree to use such schemes as those operated by ProMediate UK Ltd as we believe LeO is better equipped to resolve complaints against legal firms.
Our professional conduct or behaviour
Our regulatory body, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) can help you if you are concerned about our conduct or behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
We are bound by various professional rules of conduct which can be viewed online on the SRA’s website (https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/standards-regulations). You can also see more information about the assistance, guidance and help the SRA can give to you here: https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor.page