LCS official logo

Resolving complaints about solicitors

About poor service

When you contact us to make a complaint about poor service, we'll

  • make sure that your solicitor is aware of your complaint

    We may send a copy of your letter or complaint form directly to their firm. Let us know if you don't want us to do this.

  • tell you when we will be able to follow up your complaint

We try to help you and your solicitor agree on a way to resolve your complaint – this is known as conciliation. Hundreds of complaints are resolved in this way each year.

If you and your solicitor cannot agree, we may need to make a formal decision about your complaint. Whether we try to resolve your complaint by conciliation or make a formal decision, we may require your solicitor to

  • reduce your bill
  • pay you compensation
  • correct a mistake and pay any costs involved

You should also be aware that we may decide not to take any further action about your complaint, if we think it's justified.

In a small number of cases we may also refer your case to the SRA if we think the solicitor has broken any rules of professional conduct. This is called misconduct. It is very rare that as a result of a complaint, solicitors are disciplined or struck off.

Examples of poor service complaints and decisions

Example 1

Mr V complained to us that, six weeks after the completion of his house purchase, he was still awaiting from his solicitors the final paperwork and repayment of a small amount of unused money paid on account. Although this did not cause Mr V any particular distress or inconvenience, he was concerned about the firm's lack of action in response to his telephone enquiries, despite a secretary's promise to send the documents to him and refund his money.

We contacted the firm and asked why Mr V's requests had not been acted on. The solicitors initiated an investigation immediately. They reported that the temporary staff member who had taken Mr V's calls did not realise the importance of treating such requests as possible complaints and dealing with them quickly. Having been made aware of Mr V's concerns, the firm's Complaints Handling Partner arranged for the outstanding documents to be posted the same day and, in the interests of expediency, immediately paid the refund by electronic transfer at the firm's expense.

Mr V agreed that clerical errors can happen in the best–run firms, and accepted the solicitors' corrective action and apology in settlement of his complaint to the LCS.

Example 2

Mr and Mrs C sued their local housing authority, which had allegedly failed to carry out repairs on their house. At the same time, they took separate action, with their daughter, for damages for injuries caused in a road traffic accident.

The C family's solicitors

  • totally confused the two issues
  • wrote letters that failed to deal with either issue satisfactorily
  • failed to give the family any advice about legal aid

The family was left confused and distressed, and they suffered a loss following legal aid complications that could easily have been avoided if their solicitors had taken proper action.

We awarded the family Ј5,000, the maximum amount then permitted.