Large organisations can often be difficult for lawyers to communicate with.
I have come back from a short holiday to a number of complaints from clients. One lady wanted compensation for the distress caused by her turning up for an appointment on the wrong day – not just her travelling expenses but compensation for disappointment. I wonder what quantum would be for not seeing a solicitor?
I also received a letter from the Legal Ombudsman about a client who complained to us in June. I duly replied sending him a copy of our procedure which he has not exhausted. The letter is eight pages of what will happen, how it will be handled and how much it may cost. It may cost me presumably. There seem to be at least three separate stages and it probably will take about three months.
The subject matter of this complaint is a simple matter. The client says something happened and we say it did not. The client has started county court proceedings against us and another organisation. I do not know whether the litigation trumps the ombudsman’s involvement or vice versa. What I hope is the investigator will assist us to resolve this matter. They probably will.
There is a telephone number and an email address to contact the Assessment Centre but they will not be able to discuss the matter in detail as they do not investigate the complaint. There is no postal address on the eight-page letter. The unsigned letter does not say which individual is dealing with the matter. Why not?
Yes, of course I know where they are because I have to write and tell every new client and on every new matter their address and contact details. I could look them up but why does this eight-page letter not have proper contact details? To be fair I did get an email from a named individual a few days later and my dealings with them in the past have been professional and businesslike.
One of the challenges of being in practice is you have to deal with large organisations who are not easy to communicate with. We deal with another body and wanted to know how much money they were going to send us. The phone number for the department that you would think could help is not in use. You can search the website and won’t find a telephone number.
Eventually we found a number in an old email which did the trick. Presumably they get hundreds of phone calls each month from people wanting financial information. They restrict the calls to get on with other work but I guess restricting calls just adds to the emails and letters they receive.
I don’t blame organisations for restricting enquiries as their funding is limited. And when you get through to the right individuals they are as helpful as they can be. But I am disappointed I cannot contact these organisations more easily. Can I get compensation?
David Pickup is a partner at Aylesbury-based Pickup & Scott