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5 - Our decision

Please note that as the complaints investigation is part of a disciplinary process which could, in exceptional circumstances, result in a referral to the Independent Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal or other reputational damage, both the Society and solicitors take the process very seriously.

Solicitors are expected to respond in detail to the complaint which includes, producing significant documents to support the statements they make in response to the complaint.

When the Society concludes an investigation it may:

• Find that the solicitor has been guilty of inadequate service or professional misconduct.

• If the solicitor has given inadequate professional service, the Society can also exercise its statutory powers to impose certain sanctions which include:

1. Determining the costs to which the solicitor is entitled to is limited to a specific amount, having regard to standard of the service provided.
2. Directing the solicitor to take such steps for the completion of the matter within such reasonable time as the Society may specify.
3. Directing the solicitor to secure rectification of any error or omission or other deficiency.
4. Directing the solicitor to take any other action which the Society thinks is necessary in your interests at the solicitor's expense.

In more serious cases of professional misconduct, the Society can prosecute the solicitor before the independent Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal.

However, the Society may conclude that the solicitor's actions have been in order and your complaint is not upheld. If your complaint is not upheld the Society will inform you of the reasons for the decision.

The Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal

This is a disciplinary body independent of the Law Society and includes lay people. It was set up by Parliament as part of the High Court and has the power to:

• Strike a solicitor off the roll of solicitors, in effect banning him/her from practising as a solicitor.

• Suspend the solicitor from his or her practice.

• Impose a fine or admonishment or order restitution.

The Tribunal cannot order your solicitor to pay compensation to you.

The Lay Observer

The Society's procedures are open to public scrutiny through the offices of the Lay Observer.

The Lay Observer is an official appointed by the Government in consultation with the Lord Chief Justice to oversee the way in which the Society investigates complaints about solicitors.

If you feel the Law Society has not handled your case properly you can write to:

The Lay Observer

2nd Floor West

Clare House

303 Airport Road,

Belfast

BT3 9ED

http://www.layobserverni.com/

Immigration Cases

The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner oversees the Law Society's handling of immigration complaints. The Society reports on the number of complaints received and the outcome.

You may contact the OISC at:
Email:         complaints@oisc.gov.uk
Telephone: 0207 211 1500
By Post:      

Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner
  

Complaints Team  

5th Floor  

21 Bloomsbury Street  

London  

WC1B 3HF

Handling your documents

In order to comply with its responsibilities to external regulators such as the Lay Observer and the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner, the Society has to allow access to its files to ensure that we are doing our job properly. No unlawful or improper use will however, be made of that information.