How to Complain About Paralegals

Because paralegals are not yet formally regulated, knowing how to complain, and to whom, can be confusing.

This is our advice.

We are committed to enhancing the professionalism of the paralegal profession and the standard of service that is delivered. You can see on our Standards pages under the Standards tab above, the standards we set for paralegals, which show what is expected of paralegals at various levels of seniority. You can also find there our Code of Conduct that we require all our members to comply with. The most direct way that we can help you therefore is to take disciplinary action against a member who is found to have not lived up to the Standards or to have breached the Code of Conduct.

Even if the person or firm you wish to complain about is not a member of the Institute we will be pleased to offer you advice as to how to complain and seek redress. There is though some general advice that is worth bearing in mind when you think you may have a complaint:

Complaints against Individual Paralegals

The first step should be to make a formal complaint to the firm or organisation that they work for. It is best to put this in writing and head it 'Complaint' so that there is no misunderstanding. Any good firm or organisation will have a complaints procedure. Certainly, if the paralegal in question works for a firm of solicitors this is the most effective first step.

If the paralegal is a member of the Institute then you may also complain to us and we will investigate. If the paralegal is found to have breached our Code of Conduct then disciplinary action will taken. We will also assess the paralegal against our Competency Standards in determining if he or she have carried out their duties to the appropriate standard. We will endeavour to acknowldege your complaint in writing within 7 days of receiving it and inform you of the steps we are going to take.

Complaints against Paralegal Firms

Again the first step should be a formal complaint to the firm itself. It may have a complaints procedure and if, in due course, your complaint needs to be taken elsewhere, you may find that you will only be listened to if you first made a complaint to the firm itself and gave it the chance to put things right.

If that is unsuccessful then try to find out if the firm is a member of the Institute. If it is we will investigate and if the firm is found to have breached our Code of Conduct, disciplinary action will be taken.

Alternatively, if the firm does any of the following types of work it is likely to be registered or regulated as explained below and you should complain to the relevant authority:

They will almost certainly be registered with the Office of the Immigrations Services Commissioner and have to fulfil her requirements (see http://www.oisc.gov.uk/)

Firms that are not an exempted organisation (e.g. a solicitors' firm) but who do most legally-related work in connection with claims involving: personal injury; work-related injury, disease or disability; criminal injuries compensation; Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit; employment; housing disrepair or financial products and services,  first need to be registered with the Ministry of Justice under the Compensation Act 2006. The Act was meant to regulate claims management companies, but was drafted so widely that it caught paralegal law firms too. Regulated providers are required to comply with conduct rules which are explained on the Ministry of Justice Conduct of Business page.

Giving most types of financial advice (including mortgage and insurance related advice) is governed by the regulatory/registration scheme established under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

We are here to help

It is a matter of concern that paralegals are largely unregulated and we are actively lobbying government and the other legal sector regulators on this point. In the meantime, as the leading paralegal body, we offer free advice to the public about how best to raise a complaint. Please remember that we are not a regulator and do not have any powers to compel action to be taken or to award compensation. We can, however, discipline members of the Institute and advise you on how to complain and to whom. For further advice contact us at complaints@theiop.or

You can complain about any Institute member by using our online form https://adobeformscentral.com/?f=yW7am02r2oHN3h74XvJWbQ


 

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