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Complaints policy

Complaints policy

Legal Aid WA complaints policy

The standard to be achieved is the successful management of written or oral complaints.

This policy applies to complaints associated with the management of Legal Aid WA clients and the conduct of Legal Aid WA employees/contractors. (The following link will take you to the Complaints Handling procedures on this page.) However, if a complaint concerns a minor administrative or policy matter and may be readily resolved at the initial point at which it was raised, then it shall be dealt with informally, and resolved at the point at which the complaint was raised.

The principal responsibility for the management of complaints rests with the Director, Managing Solicitor, Supervising Solicitor or Manager of the relevant section. A member of staff who is the subject of a complaint will not have the main responsibility for responding to the complainant. Where a complaint is made about a Director, Managing Solicitor, Supervising Solicitor or Manager, the complaint will be dealt with by their immediate supervisor.

Receiving an oral complaint

All oral complaints received by Legal Aid WA employees must be recorded (including the outcome) in the form of either a file note or email, which shall be forwarded to the Complaints Coordinator and a copy placed on the relevant client file. Telephone complaints to the Director shall be referred to the Complaints Coordinator, who will record the complaint and refer to the appropriate person for resolution.

Receiving a written complaint

All written complaints received by Legal Aid WA, either through Australia Post, MailWest, courier, personally (by hand), facsimile, email or any other written form shall be channelled through the Information Management Records Section immediately upon receipt.

The Records Supervisor shall:

  • log the complaint into the Complaints Register
  • complete a Complaints Management Form (yellow), and
  • forward the form and complaints documentation to the Complaints Coordinator.

 

Complaints coordinator responsibilities

Legal Aid WA's Complaints Coordinator is the Executive Projects Officer or in his/her absence the Director's secretary. The Complaints Coordinator is responsible for administering the complaints process in accordance with this policy.

Oral complaints

Upon receipt of an oral complaint, the Complaints Coordinator shall:

  • listen to the complaint and note the relevant details
  • if necessary forward to an appropriate person for resolution
  • record the complaint in the Complaints File, and
  • follow up with the appropriate person that the complaint has been resolved (where relevant).

Written complaints

Upon receipt of a written complaint, the Complaints Coordinator shall:

  • record the complaint in the Complaints File and assign for action to the relevant Director, Managing Solicitor, Supervising Solicitor or Manager (refer Complaints Handling Procedures)
  • note follow up action for the complaint within 21 working days of receipt of the complaint
  • acknowledge the complaint in writing within five working days
  • record action on the Complaint Management form, and
  • forward the complaint to the Director, Managing Solicitor, Supervising Solicitor or Manager.

Upon return of the complaint documentation (including the letter of response), the Complaints Coordinator shall:

  • forward to the Director for analysis and a determination as to whether any remedial action is warranted, and
  • arrange any further action required by the Director.

On final resolution of the complaint:

  • place on the Complaints File (in alphabetical order), and
  • forward a copy of the completed Complaints Management Form to the Supervisor, Records who will enter in the Complaints Register.

The Complaints Coordinator is responsible for ensuring all deadlines are met.

Complaints handling grants of aid decisions

A complaint received regarding a decision to grant/refuse or terminate aid shall be referred to the Managing Solicitor, Assessing.

A complaint received regarding a decision to grant/refuse or terminate aid shall be referred to the Managing Solicitor, Assessing.

The Managing Solicitor, Assessing may delegate investigation/drafting of the response to the appropriate person. (The following link will take you to the Managing Solicitor/Supervising Solicitor responsibilities section on this page.)

If a complaint is received about the representation by an outside practitioner acting under a grant of legal aid, then permission should be sought from the complainant for Legal Aid WA to forward their letter to the practitioner concerned for his/her input. Once a response has been received from the practitioner a response may then be drafted to the complainant.

Responses shall be signed by the Manager Solicitor, Assessing for quality assurance of the reply.

Solicitor's conduct

A complaint received regarding a staff solicitor's conduct, whether under a grant of legal aid or in the capacity as duty lawyer or in providing legal advice and assistance, as well as a private practitioner acting as duty lawyer or providing legal advice shall be referred to the relevant Director.

The relevant Director may delegate investigation/drafting of the response through the relevant Managing Solicitor/ Supervising Solicitor/Manager of the section/regional office under the complaint (refer Managing Solicitor/Supervising Solicitor responsibilities). Responses shall be signed by the relevant Director for quality assurance of the reply.

Solicitors not acting for a Legal Aid WA client

If a complaint is received about representation by an outside practitioner acting for someone who is not a Legal Aid WA client it cannot be dealt with by Legal Aid WA. The complainant shall be advised that this is not a Legal Aid WA matter and suggest they contact the Legal Practitioners Complaints Committee.

Other Legal Aid WA services

A complaint received regarding the conduct of a Legal Aid WA employee (other than a solicitor) shall be referred to the relevant Director of the section under the complaint.

The Director may delegate investigation/drafting of the response through the relevant Managing Solicitor, Supervising Solicitor or Manager. Responses shall be forwarded by the relevant Director for quality assurance of the reply.

Managing Solicitor/Supervising Solicitor/Manager responsibilities

Upon receipt of a written complaint from the Complaints Coordinator/Director, the relevant Managing Solicitor/Supervising Solicitor/Manager shall:

Upon receipt of a written complaint from the Complaints Coordinator/Director, the relevant Managing Solicitor/Supervising Solicitor/Manager shall:
  • investigate the complaint (if necessary)
  • draft a reply to the complainant within 21 days days of Legal Aid WA's receipt of the complaint, including details of:
    • the issues and what action has been taken or will be taken, and
    • his or her right to seek redress under the Legal Practice Act, if appropriate
  • forward the draft together with the complaint and all original documentation to the relevant division Director for approval and signature and if considered necessary, the signature of the Director of Legal Aid WA.

Last reviewed: 01/01/2008

Last modified: 29/02/2016 11:21 AM

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.