SRA Report Claims Conveyancers Improving Complaints Handling Skills

Law firms are becoming increasing adept at successfully handling client complaints without the issue being passed onto the Legal Ombudsman (LeO).

According to the ‘First Tier Complaints’ Report, published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), complaints have increased by 5.8% since 2012.

Eight years ago, 26,570 first-tier complaints were made to law firms. However, by the end of 2018, this figure had risen to 28,113.

Whilst complaints are increasing, so is the law firms’ ability to handle the issues in house without complaints escalating any further. Last year, 22,847 complaints were successfully resolved by the law firm directly.

This represents 81% of all cases and is a 9% improvement of law firms’ ability to resolve matters in 2012 where 18% of complaints were passed on to LeO.

The report also found a clear correlation between the size of the law firm and their ability to resolve a complaint without it escalating. It has been assumed that larger firms have dedicated resources to handle complaints.

However, large firms also faced more first-tier complaints than any other firm size, accruing 13,775 in total. This represents almost half (49%) of all first-tier complaints received in 2018.

Medium firms racked up 8,152 (29%) complaints with 1,638 (6%) complaints being made against small firms. Very large firms only received 1% of the total number of first-tier complaints as larger organisations looked to use other forms of redress for complaints.

Unsurprisingly, 18.5% of all first-tier complaints involved delays in the completion of the legal service. 13.5% of consumers were annoyed at the solicitors’ failure to advise and 11.2% were annoyed with excessive costs charged to them.

Paul Phillip, SRA Chief Executive, commented:

“People expect businesses to provide them with high levels of customer service on a day-to-day basis.

“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.”

The SRA have claimed that law firms should use the data as a way of benchmarking their ability to resolve complaints. How effective is your conveyancing firm at dealing with first-tier complaints?

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