Making complaints against a solicitor

From Citizens Advice Bureau:

Complaints about solicitors

You may be dissatisfied with your solicitor for a number of reasons, for example, you may have problems with legal aid and/or you may be dissatisfied with the outcome of the case. You cannot complain about these things to your solicitor. However, if you are dissatisfied with the way the case was handled by the solicitor, for example, delays, discrimination or your solicitor losing documents or money, you can complain.

You must first try to resolve the complaint by discussing it with your solicitor. All solicitors’ firms must have a written complaints procedure and the firm will tell you who to contact if you have a problem with the solicitor handling the case. The solicitor must give you a copy of the complaints procedure if you ask for it.

If this does not resolve the matter, in England and Wales you should contact the Legal Ombudsman. In Northern Ireland, you should contact the Law Society of Northern Ireland.

The Legal Ombudsman in England and Wales

The Legal Ombudsman has a telephone help-line which can advise you about whether they can deal with your complaint.

You must contact the Legal Ombudsman within six months of your last contact with your solicitor. You should give them:

details of the name and address of your solicitor the date you told your solicitor about your complaint details of the response you received.

The Legal Ombudsman will first try to resolve your complaint informally. If this is not possible, they will investigate your complaint formally and you will have a chance to put your case in writing.

If you accept the Legal Ombudsman’s decision, it will be final and binding on you.

If the Legal Ombudsman agrees that your solicitor’s service has been unsatisfactory, they can ask your solicitor to do any of the following:-

apologise to you give you back any documents you might need pay you compensation for loss, inconvenience or distress (up to £30,000) to put things right if more work can correct what went wrong refund or reduce legal fees.

If the solicitor has broken any rules of professional conduct, the Legal Ombudsman may refer your complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. In extreme cases, the solicitor could be disciplined or struck off which would mean they could no longer work as a solicitor.

If your solicitor has been negligent or has discriminated against you, you may be able to take legal action against the solicitor as well as complaining to the Legal Ombudsman. You will need to get legal advice. You may be able to get legal aid for this.

You can contact the Legal Ombudsman at:

Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 15870
B77 9LE

Tel: 0300 555 0333 (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm)
Minicom: 0300 555 1777

You can find more information about how to make a complaint on the Legal Ombudsman website at:

Legal Services Ombudsman in England and Wales

The Legal Services Ombudsman used to handle complaints which are now dealt with by the Legal Ombudsman. It is continuing to handle complaints which were submitted before 6 October 2010.

If you have a complaint which you submitted before 6 October 2010 which has been reviewed by the Legal Complaints Service and are unhappy with the outcome, you will need to contact the Legal Services Ombudsman.

You have three months from the date of the decision to make a complaint.

You can contact the Legal Services Ombudsman on 0300 300 3100 and ask for a complaint form.

For more information about using an Ombudsman, see How to use an ombudsman.

For more information about legal aid, see Help with legal costs.