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Consumer Guidance - Complaints about Lawyers - ProMediate Legal Complaints Service

Click2Mediate - Complaints about lawyers handled professionally

Peter Causton - Professional Indemnity Specialist Mediator

Peter Causton – Professional Indemnity Specialist Mediator

ProMediate has been certified by CTSI to deal with disputes between clients and their lawyers, as an alternative option prior to going to the Legal Ombudsman.

Sometimes, unfortunately, when you instruct a lawyer, things do not go as smoothly as you would have hoped. If you have to make a complaint and they still refuse to respond to your satisfaction, it may be worthwhile trying to resolve it out of Court, as professional negligence claims can be complex and expensive.

For example, if you have a complaint about a lawyer you can go to The Legal Ombudsman but they will normally only deal with a dispute over inadequate services and are limited to awarding £50,000 compensation. That is the highest level which is rarely awarded.  They can also take a long time to deal with your complaint.

So, if you are complaining about inadequate service or you have a professional negligence claim (whereby you have suffered financial loss and/or damage) you could try to mediate the dispute first. This involves a neutral third party negotiating between the parties.

There are various mediation organisations established but ProMediate has been authorised by Trading Standards under the ADR for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015.  It is free for consumers

 

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Complaints about Lawyers – GUIDANCE FOR CONSUMERS

What is Click2Mediate? Click2Mediate is an independent alternative dispute resolution service, which is the trading name of Promediate (UK) Limited, which has been set up to resolve disputes between clients and professional businesses in the UK, where they are regulated and onbliged to use a professional body to resolve complaints if they cannot be resolved.

All our mediators dealing with professional disputes are fully qualified lawyers with experience in handling professional negligence claims. What is more, the service is free to consumers. Click2Mediate provides an alternative way of resolving the dispute without having to complain to the professional’s ADR body such as the Legal Ombudsman, which can be slow to deal with complaints.

They may also be unwilling to deal with a complaint if it contains allegations of professional negligence. Click2Mediate uses telephone and/or online video conferencing mediation to resolve disputes. ProMediate (UK) Limited is registered with the Civil Mediation Council and certified by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute to deal with complaints about lawyers.

Who makes the decision in relation to my dispute?

Click2Mediate does not make a decision about your dispute but conciliates and mediates between you and the business in an attempt to help you to reach a settlement. The process is entirely voluntary and non-binding until any agreement is reached between you. However, at the end of the process, if requested, Click2Mediate will issue a non-binding case summary, containing a record of any offers made and a proposed solution, to assist the parties. After you have submitted your complaint form and any supporting documents, online, we will contact you by telephone to try to resolve the case.

A mediator will be allocated to deal with the case, after checking that they do not have any conflict of interest. Your claim will be dealt with by a professional, fully trained Click2Mediate mediator who will be completely independent and impartial as well as being knowledgeable regarding professional negligence claims, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and other consumer legislation.

The Click2Mediate mediator will act as a go-between between you and the business, discuss the details of the complaint and see whether there is any scope for agreement between you, by organising a telephone or online video conference mediation. All communications between you, the business and the mediator during the process will be “without prejudice” (that is, that they cannot be referred to elsewhere, for instance in court proceedings) and are non-binding. You are free at any stage to terminate the mediation process.

How will the mediator assist in resolving the case? The mediator will negotiate between the parties to find an amicable solution. If, at the end of the 28 days, no solution has been agreed, the mediator will consider the information you provided in your application along with any supporting evidence you submitted. They will also consider the evidence submitted by the business in response to your claim, all relevant law and will consider what is most fair and reasonable in light of all of the circumstances before them when proposing a solution.

Can I talk directly to the mediator? Yes, the mediator will email or telephone you after you have submitted your complaint form and supporting documents and the business has submitted its response form and documents. During mediation the mediator is available to discuss the matter further by telephone or video conferencing (without the business hearing directly what you have to say).

Will there be a hearing for me to provide evidence?

No, there is no hearing as such where a decision is made. Instead, the mediator will speak to you and the business separately in confidence to try to resolve the case.

When will the dispute be resolved? Click2Mediate will deal with your dispute within 28 days of receiving your completed application. If the claim has not settled, to assist the parties, the mediator will issue a case summary within 28 days with a proposed solution, if requested.

Do I have to use Click2Mediate? No, you are not obliged to make an application to Click2Mediate in order to resolve your dispute.

Do I have to pay to use the scheme? No, as complaints to the Ombudsman are free to consumers, consumers do not pay a fee to use Click2Mediate’s services. NB CTSI ARE CURRENTLY REVIEWING THIS AND CURRENT CHARGES ARE THE SAME AS CLICK2RESOLVE CONSUMER SCHEME

The Business pays a fee to Click2Mediate, but this does not affect Click2Mediate’s independence.

Can I recover the costs of preparing my Click2Mediate case? No, you must pay any costs you incur in preparing and submitting your case to Click2Mediate, which include any incidental or third party costs. If, for example, you decide to take legal advice about making an application you must pay for that yourself.

Do I need a lawyer? No, you do not need a lawyer but you can choose to use one if you wish, but you will have to pay all of the legal (or other professional) costs you incur in making your application yourself.

Referring a Dispute to Click2Mediate – When can I make an application to Click2Mediate?

An referral to Click2Mediate can be made after:

1. you have made a complaint and the business offers to refer your complaint to Click2Mediate, usually after you have exhausted the business’ complaints procedure, but before you make a complaint to the Ombudsman; and

2. you have been told by the business that that you are eligible to apply to Click2Mediate in an email or “deadlock” letter (where you have come to the end of the internal process and the dispute has not settled).

Alternatively, you can ask us to approach the professional ourselves or you can suggest mediation to them yourself. There are no fixed rules and the process is flexible.

What should I consider before making my application? – You should read these guidance notes carefully before making an application to ensure your claim can be dealt with by Click2Mediate.

What kind of disputes can Click2Mediate deal with? We can deal with disputes related to any issues regarding the provision of professional which have been the subject of an internal business complaints procedure. Click2Mediate will assess your application against certain criteria (see below) and if your dispute does not fall within the scope of the scheme, you will be told by Click2Mediate and your application will not be referred to a mediator.

The business will also have the opportunity to object to the acceptance of your application if it considers that the dispute is outside the scope of the scheme. In such circumstances Click2Mediate will rule on the validity of the application and the decision of Click2Mediate will be final.

What kind of disputes cannot be dealt with by Click2Mediate? If any of the following apply then Click2Mediate cannot deal with your complaint:

• if prior to submitting the complaint, you have not attempted to contact the business concerned in order to discuss your complaint and sought, as a first step, to resolve the matter directly with the business.

• any dispute or disputes that are and considered by Click2Mediate to be frivolous and/or vexatious.

• the dispute is being or has been previously considered by another ADR entity (such as a different mediator or Ombudsman) or by a Court.

You should only apply if your dispute falls within the criteria of acceptable cases detailed above. If you are unsure, you can contact Click2Mediate to check.

What is the maximum amount I am able to claim under Click2Mediate scheme?-  The scheme is designed for claims with a value under £50,000. Claims with a value over £50,000 can be dealt with by ProMediate outside the scheme.

What should I put in my application? You will need to include the letter or email from the business telling you that you can apply to Click2Mediate. You should set out what your dispute is about and your application should include details of:

• the business’ services which the dispute is about;

• the events leading to the complaint;

• the precise issues in dispute;

• the steps already taken to attempt to reach a resolution with the business;

• the relevant dates for the service issues and prior steps taken to seek resolution;

• the reasons for requesting the remedy or remedies sought;

• the reasons and evidence in support of any compensation claimed;

• the remedy or remedies being sought;

• any relevant supporting documents – remember it will help your application if you can provide evidence to support your claim.

Finally you must let us have your authority to allow the business to release all information on their files relating to your claim. Click2Mediate has designed an application form that will take you through these requirements step by step.

Can Click2Mediate help me with my application? Yes, the Click2Mediate team is available to offer guidance about how to make your application. Click2Mediate is committed to providing appropriate accessibility for everyone it deals with. Click2Mediate will not, however, be able to tell you how to set out your claim or offer any advice about the claim you wish to make.

Settlements – The business made me an offer before I made my application, can I still accept it? Yes, any offer or offers made by the business before you made your application are open and you can accept them after you have made your application, unless the business has withdrawn the offer.

What if the business makes me an offer after I have made my application? You can accept any offer made by the business after you have made your application. This is called an agreed settlement.

Will Click2Mediate negotiate with the business for me? Yes, Click2Resolve is an impartial, independent dispute resolution service; it will not act for either you or the company. However, negotiations will only take place during the mediation process and Click2Mediate cannot be asked to take extra steps outside the mediation process.

Mediation Settlement Agreements – What can Click2Mediate make the business do?

Whilst it is anticipated that businesses will comply with settlement agreements, Click2Mediate cannot make the business comply with any settlement agreement reached, but a settlement agreement will be binding on the parties (and is enforceable using other agencies). If requested, Click2Mediate will issue a non-binding suggestion for resolving the dispute (see above). We can, if appropriate, suggest that the business provide or do any or all of the following:

• provide an explanation and/or an apology;

• provide replacement services;

• do something about your bill or bills;

• take some specified action ;

• provide financial compensation

Remember that in all cases the mediator cannot order the business to pay you or to take any action or provide any goods or service. Compliance is voluntary.

Can Click2Mediate fine the business and/or take any punitive action against it? No, Click2Mediate is not a regulator and cannot impose fines on businesses. The role of Click2Mediate is to resolve individual disputes between clients and professional businesses in an impartial manner.

What should I do when I receive a settlement proposal? You are free to take the matter further at any stage (before settlement). You have 5 working days to tell Click2Mediate whether you accept any proposal (unless we agree a longer acceptance period). If you accept a proposal, it will be binding on the business and the customer. Service:

What if I want to complain about Click2Mediate? Click2Mediate has a set complaints procedure which can be found on the website. Click2Mediate is registered with the Civil Mediation Council as an ADR Provider and complies with the EU Code of Conduct for Mediators.

Is Click2Mediate registered under the Data Protection Act 1998? Click2Mediate is operated by ProMediate (UK) Limited, which is registered under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Any Queries? Contact Us: Click2Mediate Brow Farm Top Road Frodsham WA6 6SP Tel: 0871 268 9828 Email: enquiries@promediate.co.uk

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