Complaints regulations

1. Definition of terms

Complaint

Any verbal or written expression of dissatisfaction, which can reasonably be designated such, concerning the services provided by the lawyer, as communicated by, or on behalf of, the client.

Complainant

The client or its representative that expresses a complaint.

Complaints procedure

The procedure used at the office to deal with complaints.

Complaints regulations

This document, being the written presentation of the complaints procedure used at the office.

Complaints official

The person, not being the lawyer against whom the complaint is directed, who is responsible for dealing with the complaint.

Complaints registration form

A form to be used internally to implement the procedure recorded in the complaints regulations.

Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession [Geschillencommissie Advocatuur]

The committee established by the Dutch Foundation for Consumer Complaints Boards [Stichting Geschillencommissies voor consumentenzaken] (SGC) and the Dutch Foundation for Corporate Disputes Appeals Committees [Stichting voor Beroep en Bedrijf] (SGB) to which the Firm can submit disputed and unpaid bills and where price/quality disputes can be initiated if the solution provided by the office is deemed unsatisfactory.

Disputes Regulations for the Legal Profession [Geschillenregeling Advocatuur]

The procedure used by the Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession [Geschillencommissie Advocatuur] to settle disputes between lawyers and clients.

Regulations governing the Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession [Geschillencommissie Advocatuur]

The regulations detailing the method of working of the Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession [Geschillencommissie Advocatuur].

2. Objectives

The objectives of the complaints regulations are

  1.  to record a procedure for dealing with client complaints by a reasonable deadline and in a constructive fashion.
  2. to record a procedure to determine the causes of client complaints.
  3. to maintain and improve existing relationships by dealing with complaints properly.
  4. to train employees in how to respond to complaints.
  5. to maintain the quality of the services by processing and analysing complaints.

3.  Informing the client

The lawyer

  1. informs the client that the office uses complaints regulations.
  2. informs the client of the possibility of submitting insoluble problems to the Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession [Geschillencommissie Advocatuur].
  3. notifies the client that the Regulations governing the Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession can be obtained from the committee secretary by writing to the address: Postbus 90600, 2509 LP The Hague.

4. The internal complaints procedure

  1. If a client contacts the office in any way with a complaint, the lawyer concerned must be informed accordingly.
  2. The lawyer concerned will try to find a solution together with the client, possibly after consulting the complaints official.
  3. The lawyer concerned or the complaints official will ensure that the complaint is dealt with properly with due regard for the present complaints regulations.
  4.  Confidentiality must be guaranteed in all circumstances.
  5. The decision on the complaint will be communicated to the client.
  6. If the client indicates that the complaint has not been resolved satisfactorily, the issue will be submitted to the Disputes Committee for the Legal Profession [Geschillencommissie Advocatuur].

5. Registration of complaint classification

  1. All complaints are to be registered in accordance with the complaints registration form.
  2. The complaints official registers and classifies the complaint.
  3. The complaint is classified

–    According to method of submission as

A.  Verbal

B.   Written

–    According to the nature of the complaint based on the following categories:

I.    Complaints regarding the method of working of/treatment by the lawyer.

II.  Complaints regarding legal/content-related aspects of the services provided.

III. Complaints regarding financial aspects of the services provided.

IV.  Complaints regarding practices in general.

4.   A complaint can be allocated to various classes.

5.   If the complaint has been dealt with satisfactorily, the lawyer concerned and the complaints official will sign the complaints registration form.

6. Responsibilities

  1. The lawyer concerned and thereafter the complaints official are responsible for processing and dealing with complaints.
  2. The complaints official is responsible for ensuring that the complaints registration form is filled in completely.
  3. The lawyer concerned will update the complaints official on the further processing of the complaint.
  4. The office must process the complaint in writing within four weeks.
  5. The complaints official will arrange for a response to be sent to the complainant.
  6. The complaints official will update the complaints dossier.

7. Analysis of the Complaints

  1. The complaints registration forms are to be collected by the complaints official once the complaint has been dealt with.
  2. The complaints official will provide periodical reports on the processing of complaints.
  3. The complaints official will arrange for a response to be sent to the complainant.
  4.  The complaints official also makes recommendations to prevent new complaints, as well as to improve procedures.

8. Internal discussions

  1. The complaints details will be discussed once a year on the basis of analysis at the office.
  2. Improvement measures will be prepared and planned.
  3. The complaints official is responsible for preparing this meeting and for performing an analysis.

9. Preventive action

  1. On the grounds of the annual analysis by the complaints official, the Firm will decide regarding preventive measures to be taken in order to improve the quality of services.
  2. The measures to be taken are to be presented together with the analysis at the office meeting.