Our Equality and Diversity policy
The firm’s statement of principle on equal opportunities is:
The firm is committed to a policy of treating all employees, job applicants, clients, professional advisers and associated third parties equally. No individual shall receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of:
(a) Race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins
(b) Religion or belief
(c) Sex or marital/civil partner status
(d) Sexual orientation
(e) Gender reassignment
(f) Age (or perceived age)
(g) Disability (past or present)
(h) Trade union membership (or non-membership)
(i) Part-time or fixed term status
(j) No employee or potential employee shall be disadvantaged by any conditions of employment that cannot be justified as necessary on operational grounds.
(k) The firm aims to encourage, value and manage diversity and is committed to equality for its entire staff. The firm wishes to attain a workforce which is representative of the communities from which it is drawn.”
Firms regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority(SRA) are required to collect, report & publish workforce diversity data. A summary of our annual data is available free of charge on request. Please address your requests, by email, to Terry Bastyan,
Policy for payment of interest on funds held on client account
1. Rule 7 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2019
We are required to pay interest on funds in client account to clients or third parties for a fair sum of interest on any client money held by you on their behalf. We may by a written agreement come to a different arrangement with the client or the third party for whom the money is held as to the payment of interest, but must provide sufficient information to enable them to give informed consent. Our policy is based on client funds being held in an instant access account with our bank to facilitate the transaction for which the funds are held, and seeks to match the level of interest which our clients would receive on funds placed in an instant access account with the bank.
2. General client account
We will normally pay interest (where appropriate) within 28 days of completion of the matter or other termination of the retainer on funds held in our general client account. We will apply a de minimis figure of £30.00 below which no interest will be paid and any interest earned will be retained by the firm. If funds are held at the same time on separate matters for the same client such funds will normally be treated separately for interest purposes, but they may be aggregated where the matters are so closely related that it is fair and reasonable to do so.
3. Clearance periods
We will operate a clearance for interest purposes period of 2 working days on incoming and outgoing payments by cheque. The period for fate/clearance is 2 working days. Receipts and payments by electronic bank transfer (including CHAPS) or banker’s draft will be treated as cleared on receipt or payment for interest purposes.
We will review this policy and publish any changes not less than 12 monthly or whenever there is a significant change in the bank base rate.
Our Complaints Policy
We are committed to providing a high-quality legal service to all our clients. When something goes wrong, we need you to tell us about it. This will help us improve our standards.
Our Complaints Procedure
If you have a complaint, please contact the person who dealt with your matter in the first instance. If your concerns are not addressed to your satisfaction at this juncture please contact the firm’s Client Care Partner, Terry Bastyan on 01392 424242
What Will Happen Next?
We will either send you a letter or email acknowledging receipt of your complaint, or contact you by phone in order to discuss the situation. This will usually be undertaken by our Client Care Partner, Terry Bastyan. If necessary, we will ask for further details relating to your complaint. Our aim is contact you within three working days of receiving your complaint.
Very often concerns about our service are due to a misunderstanding of some type. Often where this is the case your concerns will be completely addressed during our initial contact with you.
Where this is not the case, or it is evident from the nature of the problem that a more formal approach is necessary and further investigations are required, your complaint will be recorded in our central register and we will then start to investigate your complaint. This will normally involve the following steps:
- The Client Care Partner will ask the member of staff who acted for you to reply to him concerning your complaint. Our aim is to ensure this is done within ten working days.
- He will then examine the reply and the information in your file and undertake whatever additional research is required. Depending upon the complexity of the issues involved, this may take up to seven working days from the date he received the file and the reply from the member of staff to your complaint.
- You will then be sent a reply to your complaint. Where possible this will include suggestions for resolving the matter. We will aim to do this within seven working days of completing the investigation. We will try our very best to ensure you are satisfied with our response and the manner in which we have dealt with your complaint.
At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, you should contact us again. We will then arrange to review our decision. This may include one of the following:
- A meeting with you may be arranged;
- Another partner or senior manager will review Terry Bastyan’s decision within ten working days.
We will let you know the result of any review within five working days of this being completed. At this time we will write to you confirming our final position regarding your complaint and explaining our reasons.
It is our aim to deal with complaints promptly, fairly and free of charge.
If it is not possible to resolve the complaint using this procedure Devon and Somerset Law Society (DASLS) provide a mediation service and can be contacted on 01392 366333 or via their website dasls.com. However, we would not normally agree to use this Alternative Dispute Resolution service in view of the availability of the independent Legal Ombudsman Service established under the Legal Services Act 2007. We are bound by our Regulatory Code to comply with any finding made by the Legal Ombudsman.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the Legal Ombudsman, (LeO) an alternative dispute resolution provider (ADR), to consider the complaint. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint or within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or if outside of this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it). For further information please refer to their website – legalombudsman.org.uk or contact their helpline 0300 555 0333. Gilbert Stephens is obliged to submit to the ADR procedure operated by the LeO.
If we have to change any of the timescales above, we will let you know and explain why. Different procedures and timescales may apply for complaints involving publicly funded (LAA) matters or where other solicitors or third parties are involved.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help you, if you are concerned about our behaviour. If you feel that we may have been dishonest or treated you unfairly because of your age, disability or other characteristic, you should contact the SRA. For further information please refer to their website sra.org.uk/consumers/problems/report-solicitor.