Client Care Policy

Effective Date: 14 October 2018

1. Reason for Policy

There are regulatory and best practice principles to consider in relation to client care.  Chapter 1 – Client care of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 has significant focus on the impact of a practice’s actions.

2. Policy Statement

There is now a requirement to produce a proper standard of service, taking into account the needs of our clients, providing clients with the information that they need to make decisions about the services that they require and informing them of how to complain if they are dissatisfied.

Newport Land & Law is committed to providing a quality service to all clients. The services that we provide should be recognised as being expert, accurate and appropriate. The practice strives to ensure that its advice is cost effective and communicated in a manner that is appropriate for each client. The practice is also committed to providing a truly professional service: it seeks to act with integrity and strict confidentiality in all its dealings with clients.

Our client care policy describes what this commitment means in practice and what our clients can expect from us. We will endeavour to adhere to the principle of putting our clients first, thereby ensuring that service excellence is an integral part of the planning and delivery of all services to our clients.

3. Scope

This policy applies to all activities undertaken by Newport Land & Law and to all staff.

4. Definitions

Terms specific to this Policy.

Conveyance: This effects property transfer from the seller to the buyer.
Law Society Conveyancing Protocol: The Law Society’s guide to best practice in residential conveyancing transactions of freehold and leasehold property.
SRA: Solicitors Regulation Authority.

5. Procedures

5.1 Competence

Expertise and professionalism
The practice will accept instructions only where it can meet its commitment to the provision of an expert and professional service to clients. Where instructions would be beyond the expertise or the capabilities of the practice they will be declined. In any cases of doubt as to the ability of the practice to act appropriately for the client, the head of the departmentshould be consulted.
Indemnity cover
The practice’s professional indemnity cover is limited to £3,000,000.00. We will not accept instructions where the consideration exceeds £3,000,000.00 without referring it to the insurers first.

5.2 Confidentiality

Obligations
The practice is under a professional and legal obligation to keep details of clients’ matters confidential.

This obligation, however, is subject to a statutory exception, which may require a solicitor who knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client may involve money laundering or terrorist financing to make a disclosure to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

Disclosures
If the practice is required to make a disclosure in relation to a client matter, the practice may not be able to inform the client that a disclosure has been made. The practice may also have to cease acting in the client’s matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell them the reasons for it.

Under the most recent Law Society Conveyancing Protocol we are required to make the transaction as transparent as possible and to share information with others to assist in the efficient management of each transaction or chain of transactions. Before doing so we must obtain the client’s consent. If the client consents to the disclosure of information about the transaction, other transactions in the chain or any change in circumstances, this information should be disclosed. We should encourage clients to withhold the authority to disclose in exceptional circumstances only.

5.3 Commitment

Priority
Buying or selling property is recognised as being an extremely stressful time. All clients are entitled to expect a real commitment from the practice in handling their instructions, and for the practice to attach appropriate priority to their requirements. A proper standard of service does not involve becoming emotional, and this is borne in mind in wording correspondence. If it is necessary to issue a client’s ultimatum, it will be made clear that the practice is acting on the client’s instructions.

5.4 Courtesy

Courtesy
All clients are entitled to be dealt with in a respectful and courteous manner. This will have many implications, from not keeping clients waiting in the reception area without explanation, to showing them the way to and from meeting rooms. Staff should also be courteous when communicating via telephone calls and e-mails, as well as showing genuine interest in the client’s matter and any concerns about it. This can be done simply by the practice being seen to do its best to help them.

Delays at reception
If there is a delay of over 10 minutes the receptionist should endeavour to:

  •  offer an apology to the client;
  • phone the member of staff and request an update to inform the client;
  •  inform the client of the reasons for the delay and actions to remedy;
  • escort the client to the relevant meeting room, if appropriate;
  • provide the client with suitable refreshments.

If there is a delay of over 20 minutes the receptionist should:

  • offer an apology to the client;
  • phone the member of staff and advise that they, a member of their team or secretary are required to deal with the situation;
  •  suggest a different appointment time, or organise the fee-earner’s secretary to do so, if directed to by a colleague.

5.5 Dress and demeanour

Dress
It is important that the practice should project a sense of professionalism at all times, particularly in its dealings with clients. First impressions gained by clients do matter. Everybody should dress in a manner which is appropriate for their practice and a respectful manner.

Conduct

Professionals should also try to conduct themselves in a way that will reassure clients and enhance the practice’s commitment to client service. This can be achieved by appropriate behaviour both in and outside the office towards clients, business contacts, suppliers and other third parties. A positive, respectful and professional approach will have a significant impact on any client.

5.6 Client feedback

Feedback

A client’s experience can have a significant impact on a practice. It could result in repeat business or a positive referral to a prospective client. To help Newport Land & Law continually improve its service, feedback from clients is actively encouraged and valued. There are various methods to elicit feedback, including client satisfaction surveys and post-matter questionnaires. Which method is used will depend on what is most appropriate for the practice or the client.

Complaints
The practice also monitors and evaluates client complaints to identify and address shortcomings and failings in its standard of service. Such feedback is essential to help continually gauge client perceptions of the practice.

Review
Feedback will be regularly reviewed and escalated to management level.

5.7 Confirmation of instructions

Confirmation of instruction

At or near the outset of every matter the client should receive:

  • confirmation of the name and status of the person acting, along with details of the principal person responsible for the overall supervision of the matter (contained in the practice’s initial opening letter for conveyancing, which should always be sent);
  •  a written estimate of costs and disbursements in the practice’s standard form;
  • a copy of the terms and conditions of business under which the practice acts;
  • advice as to how to complain and of their right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, the timeframe for doing so and full details of how to contact the Legal Ombudsman.

6. Responsibilities

6.1. All staff that interact with clients

Must take responsibility to:

  • make a reservation as soon as possible when meeting rooms are required;
  • ensure that all visitors are greeted appropriately and met from reception and shown back to reception;
  • ensure that clients are not kept waiting;
  • clients are escorted to the relevant meeting room, if appropriate;
  • clients are provided with suitable refreshments;
  • the reception area and any rooms used for client meetings are kept clean and tidy and appropriate;
  • the practice’s publicity material is made available to clients and is kept in presentable condition;
  • any colleagues discussing inappropriate topics, e.g. a client matter, are advised to vacate the reception.

7. Enforcement

If a person was found to be in violation of this policy, they would be dealt with in line with disciplinary policy and procedure.