Len Dastard reports - solicitors charging for complaints (about themselves)

23 June 2011

Bitterwallet - the ShatA recent YouGov poll of clients of the legal profession showed that an estimated one in seven lawyers charge clients for making complaints about the conduct of their case.

Many of the complaints made about the solicitors (which the solicitors were then charging clients to handle) were:

43% - legal advice too slow
42% - poor quality of service
38% - mistakes were made
25% - cost more than thought
15% - legal advice proved wrong
13% - lawyer was more junior than expected

Of the 1,275 surveyed, 16% said that they believed they were charged for making a complaint and 57% of the people were not even aware of the complaints procedure.

Chief Executive of the Legal Services Board, Chris Kenny, slammed the results as “totally unacceptable”, and said:

“The message from these findings is that too many lawyers are missing the chance to learn from substantial numbers of consumers who make a complaint. Improving the situation is an urgent priority for consumer protection, for the improving the service itself and for enhancing public confidence in lawyers”.

Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority code of conduct and Rule 2.05(3) states: “You must not charge your client for the cost of handling a complaint”. It is laughable that this even needs to be included in the code when surely it should be common sense.

I know from experience that the Solicitors Regulation Authority does work hard to ensure that the client is given adequate information from their solicitor about the level of costs and the complaints procedure. The SRA will undoubtedly come down hard on firms that do not follow their code of conduct.

Please get in contact with us at [email protected] if you have any questions or any issue that you would like us to look at for you. Until then, adios!

[Solicitors Journal]

TOPICS:   Complaints

2 comments

  • Alexis
    "The SRA will undoubtedly come down hard on firms that do not follow their code of conduct." Are you kidding? Graham White, Michael Sobell, ACS Law are just three bad apples from the top of my head. The SRA does nothing.
  • tin
    This all depends on what you define as a complaint. If you phone your solicitor for a general whinge about how your case is progressing, then they will reasonably charge you for their (expensive) time spent on the phone listening to you aimlessly moan on about how the world is not treating you fairly etc. If the moan actually sounds like it is a genuine grievance, the solicitor should and usually will invite you to make a complaint via the proper complaints procedure. I'd be pretty certain the figure for complaints that are actually made through any given firm's proper complaints procedure is a hell of a lot less, if not zero (because "You must not charge your client for the cost of handling a complaint"). Of course a proportion of people asked in a poll after the fact is going to say they complained and got charged for it, when in reality they didn't really complain at all.

What do you think?

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