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Complaints Procedure

DEFINITIONS

Complaint

Any oral or written expression of dissatisfaction to be reasonably considered as such made by or on behalf of the client with regard to the services rendered by the lawyer.

Complainant

The client or his/her representative who expresses a complaint.

Complaints procedure

This document being the written representation of the complaints procedure used at the firm.

Complaints officer

The person, not being the lawyer against whom the complaint is directed, who has been charged with the settlement of the complaint.

Complaints registration form

A form to be used internally for carrying out the procedure laid down in the complaints procedure.

Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession

The Committee set up by the Foundation for Consumer Complaints Committees and the Foundation for Complaints Committees for the Professions and Industry, to which the firm can submit contested and non-paid invoices and where disputes on price and quality can be instituted, if the solution advanced by the firm does not lead to satisfaction.

Complaints Settlement Procedure for the Legal Profession

The procedure for the settlement of disputes between lawyers and their clients as used by the Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession.

Rules of the Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession

The rules in which the procedure of the Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession has been laid down.

OBJECTIVES

The objectives of the complaints procedure are:

  1. To lay down a procedure in order to settle complaints of clients in a constructive way within a reasonable period of time.
  2. To lay down a procedure in order to establish the causes of the complaints of clients.
  3. To maintain and improve existing relationships by way of a proper settlement of disputes.
  4. To train our employees to respond to complaints in a client-friendly manner.
  5. To improve the quality of our services by way of the handling and analysis of complaints.

INFORMING OUR CLIENTS

The lawyer:

  1. Will point out to the client that the firm has a complaints procedure.
  2. Will inform the client that it is possible to submit unsolvable problems to the Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession.
  3. Informs the client that the Rules of the Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession can be requested from the Committee’s Secretary at the address PO Box 90600, 2509 LP The Hague, the Netherlands.

THE INTERNAL COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

  1. When a client approaches the firm with a complaint in any way whatsoever, the lawyer in question has to be informed of this.
  2. The lawyer in question attempts to come to a solution with the client, with or without consulting the complaints officer.
  3. The complaints officer will take care, jointly with the lawyer in question, of a due handling of the complaint, with due observance of/taking into consideration the present complaints procedure.
  4. The confidentiality of the client’s interests has to be guaranteed under all circumstances.
  5. The client is informed in writing of the decision on the complaint.
  6. If a complaint has not been settled to the client’s satisfaction, the possibility to submit the issue to the Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession is pointed out to the client.

REGISTRATION AND CLASSIFICATION OF THE COMPLAINT

  1. All complaints are registered in accordance with the complaints registration form.
  2. The complaints officer registers whether the complaint has been submitted orally or in writing with due observance of the following classification:
    1. complaints about the operating procedure of/treatment by the lawyer,
    2. complaints about legal and substantive aspects of the services,
    3. complaints about financial aspects of the services,
    4. complaints about the operating of the practice in general.
  3. A complaint can be classified in several classes.
  4. If the complaint has been settled to the client’s satisfaction, the lawyer in question and the complaints officer will sign the complaints registration form.

RESPONSIBILITIES

  1. The lawyer in question is responsible for the substantive handling and settlement of the complaint and keeps the complaints officer fully informed to that end.
  2. The complaints officer is responsible for the correct handling and settlement of the complaint.
  3. The complaints officer is responsible for completion in full of the complaints registration form and keeps the complaints file up to date.
  4. The complaints officer takes care of a written response to the complainant.
  5. The complaint has to be settled in writing by the firm within four weeks.

COMPLAINTS ANALYSIS

  1. Complaints registration forms are filed by the complaints officer after the complaint has been settled.
  2. The complaints officer invites the parties involved in the settlement of a complaint to comment on the handling and settlement, if so desired.
  3. The complaints officer processes the data and annually makes an analysis.
  4. The complaints officer also makes recommendations for the prevention of new complaints as well as for improving the procedures.

INTERNAL CONSULTATION

  1. Once a year the complaints data are discussed at the firm on the basis of the complaints officer’s analyses and recommendations.
  2. The complaints officer is responsible for the preparation for this meeting.

PREVENTIVE ACTION

  1. On the basis of the complaints officer’s annual analysis, the firm decides on the preventive measures to be taken to improve the quality of the services rendered.
  2. The measures to be taken are presented together with the analysis at the office meeting.