CLIENT CARE POLICY

Policy Statement

Sarah Bentley Solicitors aims to provide outstanding legal services with an honest, straight

forward and practical approach together with the highest standard of professional conduct and client care.

The SRA Code of Conduct requires that the service provided to clients must be competent, delivered in a timely manner and takes account of the clients’ needs and circumstances. The company is committed to providing a good service to all clients. Our services should be recognised as being expert, accurate and appropriate. The company strives to ensure that its advice is cost effective and communicated in a manner that is appropriate for each client. The company is also committed to providing a truly professional service, meaning that all personnel must act with integrity in all their dealings with clients. This is in part achieved by ensuring that everyone complies with the provisions of the SRA Code.

Our commitment to you

  1. We will treat you fairly and with courtesy and consideration
  2. Take all reasonable steps to avoid incurring unnecessary expense
  3. Offer flexible appointment times
  4. Use plain English wherever possible
  5. Ensure effective communication
  6. Be open and honest
  7. Always act professionally
  8. Keep your business confidential
  9. Read your instructions promptly
  10. Ensure that we have the resources and expertise to deal with your matter
  11. Observe our service standards
  12. Represent your best interests

Client Care Letter

After you have instructed us to take on your case we will issue you with a client care letter and our terms and conditions which explain in detail our expected level of service. We will inform you of the person who is going to be responsible for your case and their position in the practice.

Reasonable Adjustments for Clients

At Sarah Bentley Solicitors we pride ourselves in being able to offer our clients out of hour’s assistance and appointments during the same week of contact. We endeavour to make available appointment slots throughout each week, so new clients can be seen within a day or two of the first contact. We will visit you in home if it is not practicable for you to come to our office. We will make weekend appointments upon request.

In all cases, we will:

  • Explain to the client any limitations or conditions on what we can do for them (for instance due to the way that a matter is funded).
  • Have proper regard to their mental capacity or other vulnerability (e.g. incapacity, duress or disability when taking instructions and during the course of the matter
  • Consider whether a conflict of interest is present or has arisen.
  • We will tailor our support according to the needs of each client to ensure that the information we provide is appropriate.

Vulnerable Clients

For every client we will consider:

  • Whether they are used to dealing with legal practitioners
  • To what extent our standard client care letter is appropriate or whether further steps need to be taken to make sure they understand it
  • Whether they can make informed decisions
  • Whether they are vulnerable-We will consider whether a client should be considered as vulnerable.
  • Examples of this include:

Client does not speak or understand English

Client has a physical disability

You suspect the client is acting under duress or undue influence In all cases we will consider how we can respond to the potential vulnerability to protect the client’s interests.

Equality and diversity (See also our Equality & Diversity policy)

  • We encourage equality of opportunity and respect for diversity in our relationships with clients and others.
  • We will not discriminate unlawfully or victimise or harass anyone, including clients, and we will provide services to clients in a way that respects diversity.
  • Staff members must not discriminate unlawfully when accepting or refusing instruction.

This means that we will not discriminate on the grounds of:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil directorship
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sexual orientation
  • We will make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled clients are not placed at a substantial disadvantage and will not pass on the costs of adjustments to these clients.

Confidentiality

The SRA Code states that “you keep the affairs of clients confidential unless disclosure is required or permitted by law or the client consents”. This means that nobody may reveal to any outsider the nature of instructions provided or advice given to any client, other than in the pursuit of the client’s instructions. In most circumstances it will also be inappropriate to reveal that the company is in receipt of instructions from any named client. If you are aware that friends or other people that you know are instructing the company it may be tempting to reveal this information to others; do not do so. If you are ever in doubt as to whether you should reveal whether the company acts for a given client, or give out his, her or its address, check with Sarah Bentley. Breaches of confidentiality could cause considerable problems for the company and will usually be treated as a serious disciplinary offence.

It is easy to fall foul of this important duty by thoughtless conversations and quick meetings in the reception area. Please keep any discussions of client business in the reception area to a minimum and, wherever possible, take clients into a meeting room when they come in to sign a document or bring in papers that need to be explained or discussed. What should be a short visit can easily change if the client asks questions and they should be entitled to do so out of the earshot of other clients or visitors.

Fee earners are under a duty to disclose to the client all information material to the client’s matter of which they are personally aware, except when:

  • the client gives specific informed consent to non-disclosure or a different standard of

disclosure arises;

  • there is evidence that serious physical or mental injury will be caused to a person(s) if the information is disclosed to the client;
  • legal restrictions effectively prohibit you from passing the information to the client, such as the provisions in the money-laundering and anti-terrorism legislation;
  • it is obvious that privileged documents have been mistakenly disclosed to you;
  • you come into possession of information relating to state security or intelligence matters to which the Official Secrets Act 1989 applies;

Complaints procedure

We have a detailed documented complaints procedure. A copy of this complaints procedure is available by email from sshaun@sarahbentleysolicitors.co.uk

Feedback

We are receptive to feedback and at the end of the matter we will send you our client survey form for completion. We welcome feedback from clients at any time, negative or positive.

Review

The Director Sarah Bentley has overall responsibility for this policy.