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Hannah Gannagé-Stewart

Deputy Editor, Solicitors Journal

Law firms improve complaints handling

Law firms improve complaints handling


The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has reported that law firms appear to be getting better at resolving complaints.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has reported that law firms appear to be getting better at resolving complaints.

Figures published by the regulator this week revealed that four out of five complaints (81 per cent) were successfully resolved internally by firms themselves last year, compared with 71 per cent in 2012. 

Overall there has been a slight increase in complaint levels within the profession, with the SRA being notified of 28,113 complaints made to firms in 2018.

Since 2012, when 26,570 complaints were made, the number has risen gradually by an average of 250 complaints a year.

There is clear evidence that consumers’ awareness of their rights and firms’ work in raising awareness of their complaints procedures has contributed to the increase.

The percentage of people who said they were unhappy but didn’t complain fell from 49 per cent in 2017 to 35 per cent in 2018.

More than half of firms (55 per cent) said it was important to train staff to respond to dissatisfied clients before they complain. Most complaints received by firms were about delays, advice or costs.

Publishing year-on-year industry complaints data was one of the key commitments the SRA made when it introduced its new transparency rules in December 2018. 

Released alongside the complaints statistics, was a report into Standards of Service within the profession. 

This report highlighted that most people (88 per cent) were satisfied with the service they received from solicitors and two-thirds (65 per cent) said they felt solicitors offered good value for money.

While solicitors increasingly acknowledge the importance of offering good customer service there are differences in what factors the public and professions think are most important in achieving this.

For example, while half of customers said they would highly value being provided a clear explanation of legal processes, only 23 per cent of firms thought this important to provide.

SRA chief executive Paul Philip (pictured) said: “People expect businesses to provide them with high levels of customer service on a day-to-day basis.

“The public don’t just want positive legal outcomes, they want to be treated fairly and kept well informed at all stages of dealing with a law firm.

“Nowhere is this more important than when handling with complaints. By being open and constructive, firms can not only resolve issues quickly, but enhance their relationship with their client. This makes good business sense for everybody.”