How to complain about a solicitor (England and Wales)

This page explains the different routes for complaining about a solicitor in England and Wales.

There is more information in the Commons Library briefing, Complaints against solicitors and other lawyers.

Overview

In the first instance, in most cases a constituent should complain direct to the solicitor in question, whatever the nature of the complaint.

At the next level, after complaining to the solicitor first, they may take the complaint to either the Legal Ombudsman or the Solicitors Regulation Authority, depending on the nature of the complaint.

A leaflet published jointly by these bodies gives examples of the issues each might address: Who can help when there’s a problem with a solicitor or law firm?

Complaints about poor service

Anyone who is dissatisfied with the service provided by their solicitor should first complain directly to them. The solicitor should have in place a complaints handling procedure.

Further guidance is provided in:

Legal Ombudsman Factsheet 2, How to complain to your service provider (PDF 354 KB).

The solicitor should respond to the complaint within 8 weeks. If the solicitor does not do so, or if the constituent is unhappy with the response, he or she may complain to the Legal Ombudsman.

Legal Ombudsman

The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints about poor service.

Information is provided on the Legal Ombudsman website including:

Legal Ombudsman web page, Helping the public.

Legal Ombudsman Factsheet 1, Here to help sort out problems with your service provider.

Means of contacting the Legal Ombudsman may be found at the web page contact us.

Complaints about the conduct of solicitors

The Solicitors Regulation Authority sets the professional standards expected of law firms and individual solicitors. The Principles set out by the SRA in its Code of Conduct are listed at the SRA web page, How we regulate.

The SRA deals with cases where solicitors have breached the SRA Principles. The SRA has no power to resolve complaints about poor service, nor can it require a solicitor to compensate a client.

The cases it deals with therefore relate to concerns about a solicitor’s behaviour, for example, issues of dishonesty.

Information about reporting a solicitor to the SRA, and a link to a report form, is provided at:

Solicitors Regulation Authority web page, Reporting an individual or firm.

There is more information at this web page:

Solicitors Regulation Authority, Providing information and intelligence to the SRA.

If the Legal Ombudsman considers that a complaint involves a breach of the SRA Principles, it will refer the complaint to the SRA. Likewise, the SRA refers complaints about poor service to the Legal Ombudsman.

Scotland

There is a separate Constituency Casework page, How to complain about a solicitor (Scotland).

Northern Ireland

Information about the process in Northern Ireland is provided in section 3 of the Commons Library briefing, Complaints against solicitors and other lawyers.

Further reading

Commons Library briefing, Complaints against solicitors and other lawyers.