1. When a file is opened the Client will be provided with details of how and to whom they should complain to in writing at the outset of the case. Where a file is not opened and one-off advice is given other than by telephone, the Client must be advised about whom to approach if they are dissatisfied.
  2. Compliant information need not be given for one-off advice given by telephone unless the caller expresses dissatisfaction with the service provided.
  3. Clients are notified in the Client care letter of their right to complain.
  4. As recognized by the Nigeria Bar Association and Good Practice, it is important to have procedure for dealing with complaints from clients so we can resolve as many as possible within the Firm, stop complaints to the Nigeria Bar Association and preserve the goodwill of the client even if things have gone wrong. No doubt some of the complaints against us will be well founded.
  5. We all make mistakes and the Principal Partner would expect honesty and realism from any counsel when they have done so. The counsel should in turn receive support from the Principal Partner. Such complaints must be dealt with sympathetically and quickly.
  6. A complaint has been defined as “any expression of dissatisfaction by the Client of the service provided by the Firm”. It can be expressed by telephone, letter or personal attendance.
  7. Clients are notified in the client care letter of their right to complain. If they do, the matter will be referred to the Principal Partner, Chief J-K Gadzama, SAN. He has overall responsibility for dealing with complaints within the office.
  8. The Firm has a complaint register in which all complaints are entered. If a complaint is received, an acknowledgement will be sent to the client within three days of receipt. Thereafter, the Client will be contacted within a week to arrange an interview with the Counsel. If the matter remains unresolved, a further meeting will be fixed with the Principal Partner. The Counsel concerned will also be seen at this stage. The whole object is to ensure that the Client:
    1. is satisfied that the complaint has been dealt with seriously;
    2. gets a prompt response;
    3. is given an assurance that the matter is being reviewed;
    4. is notified as soon as possible of the outcome.
  9. The Client may not be lost to the Firm. Even though a Counsel may not agree that the complaint has any validity, the response of the Firm may be to agree with some elements of the complaint and to assure the Client that some effort will be made to remedy the problem.
  10. Counsel must understand that this is not intended to undermine their position. We all have to accept a certain amount of criticism, in return, we hope, for more satisfied Clients.
  11. Remedies open to the Client include:
    1. An apology from the Firm with the assurance it will not happen again and we will try to do better;
    2. A reduction in the bill;
    3. Abatement of the bill in total;
    4. Notification to the client of their right to complain to the Nigerian Bar Association either as a matter of professional conduct or the Firm’s inadequate professional services;
    5. Notification to the Client of their right to see another Solicitor and obtain advice as to whether or not we have been negligent.
  12. Hopefully the Client will be satisfied and the Counsel will continue to work on the file. In some circumstances, if the Counsel/Client relationship has broken down completely, it may be better for another Counsel to take over the file. If you do continue working with the file, every effort must be made to repair any damage in your relationship with the Client.
  13. Either as a result of complaints by Clients or breach of the Office Procedures Manual by any staff, disciplinary measures to be meted out can be verbal warning, written, suspension with or without pay, reporting the matter to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Disciplinary Committee or the Police, compulsory retirement or dismissal.
Phone: 09 6233 600 

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