Lockdown has caused a change in working practices, could you go further and outsource?

Barbara Spoor

Barbara Spoor, Managing Director CRCS Legal

CRCS Legal offer outsourced Complaint Resolution and Compliance Solutions, that are costs effective, efficient and compliant with your regulatory obligations.

In today’s climate it is even more vital that every precious minute is allocated to using the skills you have to help the client and to generate income, whilst providing value for money that attracts and retains clients, but in addition you have to ensure you follow all rules and regulations.

You can employ a full-time risk and compliance manager, or a Practice Manager, whose salary could be up to £60,000/annum or more, but even then they may not have the time nor the experience to deal with all of the functions that are required, particularly if this person has fee earning responsibilities too.

Outsourcing the functions of complaint and compliance, means that you are meeting your regulatory obligations, without having a full-time employee.

Complaint Resolution

The most recent research that was commissioned by the SRA and LeO showed that around 80% of clients are satisfied with the service they receive, which is brilliant!

It is the case however that sometimes you will receive a complaint.  Complaints evoke comments such as annoying, frustrating, waste of time, unjustified, defensiveness-all of which can be true, but you are obliged to deal with them.

Once you have received a complaint you are expected to deal with that complaint:

promptly, fairly, and free of charge.

This includes:

  • Reading and actively understanding the client’s complaint
  • Speaking with the client and fee earner.
  • Reviewing the client’s file
  • Drafting a response to the client
  • Awaiting their response
  • Implementing any resolution
  • Completing the process, ensuring all information is provided to the client at conclusion.

You are allowed 8 weeks to try and resolve the complaint with the client before they can escalate matters to LeO.  In common with most practices you will ordinarily have a named person to deal with complaints who will also normally have their own case holding.

Whilst 8 weeks seems a fairly long period of time, would you be able to put your case holding to one side to deal with this and provide a full response to them in that timescale?-its difficult!

If the complainant remains unhappy with how you have dealt with the complaint, they are able to escalate matters to LeO.  This means you at the very least would be expected to:

  • Speak to an Investigator
  • Read their letter/evidence request
  • Find evidence in your file
  • Collate the evidence
  • Draft a response to the Investigator
  • Await the Investigators response
  • Decide whether you agree with their decision or if you want this to go to an Ombudsman
  • Deal with any Ombudsman’s request.
  • Await Ombudsman decision
  • Implement Ombudsman decision

As part of what LeO do, they look at how complaints are handled and now publicise how the firm have handled complaints.  Their latest report suggests that 25% of firms are not dealing with complaints adequately.  Even if you deal with the substance of the complaint adequately, if your complaint handling procedure is found lacking, you could still find yourself facing a case fee of £400.

Not only does dealing with a complaint involve time, time that takes you away from fee earning, but also creates stress on the staff and partners.

CRCS Legal have the expertise in dealing with complaints daily providing a cost-effective resolution to this regulatory risk.

Compliance Solutions

The SRA code of conduct for firms expects you to appoint a COLP.  This is an extremely pressured role-the COLP may not have the time nor the expertise to deal with all the aspects of the role, particularly if they also have a fee earning function as they are expected to:

ensure compliance by your firm and its managers, employees or interest holders with the SRA‘s regulatory arrangements which apply to them;

This of itself is a very big task and as COLP may also be a fee earner, which means they will have to balance the obligation to ensure that the firm has effective:

governance structures, arrangements, systems and controls in place

to ensure that the firm is compliant, with their case holding.

This includes:

  • Maintaining knowledge to ensure awareness of developments
  • Preparing/updating policies and procedures
  • Maintaining Risk and Compliance records
  • Ensuring adequate processes are in place
  • Having a schedule to ensure these are maintained and up to date
  • Manage the administration of a staff training system
  • Being a port of call for all compliance issues
  • Being responsible for ongoing development of staff.
  • Acting where there is a breach of rules or regulations.

By outsourcing some or all of this function you can ensure your systems are always up to date, you remain compliant and there is an objective person on hand to help support you and your team.

CRCS Legal are experienced in managing this, implementing policies and procedures, providing advice to all staff, training in specific areas to ensure the knowledge basis is current.  This takes the stress out of this regulatory risk.

Tailored solutions

At CRCS Legal we listen to what you require and tailor a package to suit your needs.  Outsourcing to CRCS Legal means that your complaints are handled effectively and promptly, along with your ongoing compliance needs being met allowing you to continue to fee earn, meaning revenue continues to come in and you are able to provide the legal

Business needs revenue, particular at this time, to keep coming in, but if you are dealing with a complaint you cannot continue to earn that money.

Please contact us on 0330 2210511 or e-mail, enquiries@crcslegal.com to arrange an appointment to see how we can help.

Barbara Spoor

Managing Director

CRCS Legal

e-mail: barbara.spoor@crcslegal.com


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