How to Complain About an IOP Member
We are committed to enhancing the professionalism of the paralegal profession and the standard of service that is delivered. You can see on our Competency Standards page, the standards we set for paralegals, which show what is expected of paralegals at various levels of seniority. You can also find 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.
Regardless of how the problem has arisen, our goal is to try and help the parties reach an acceptable resolution and, where appropriate, sanction the member if at fault.
We will consider complaints about poor service, for example, how a matter was handled; how fees were charged, how the client was treated and the way in which any complaint directed to the member was handled.
What we cannot do is adjudicate claims that, in effect, require us to act like a court of law – for example complaints that the wrong advice was given, or that a case was not presented as effectively as it should have been.
We will not investigate anonymous complaints unless of a serious nature.
The first step should be to make a formal complaint direct to the Paralegal or 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.
It is really important to be aware that you must bring your complaint to us within six months of the date of the paralegals final response to your complaint. We have strict time limits and if you fail to do so, it is unlikely that we will be able to investigate your complaint.
If the paralegal fails to solve your problem to your satisfaction you can contact us and we can investigate your problem.
If a member is found to have acted in an unprofessional manner or breached our Code of Conduct they may be sanctioned or have their membership terminated.
If a member refuses to cooperate fully and in a timely manner with the Institute's investigation of the complaint, then their membership will most likely be terminated.
If a member resigns membership rather than cooperate with an investigation of a complaint then we cannot pursue the matter further.
Should a complainant exhibit unreasonable behaviour then the Institute reserves the right to immediately cease handling the complaint and to cease all further communications with the complainant.
Should a member exhibit unreasonable behaviour then the Institute reserves the right to immediately terminate the member’s membership without refund of membership fees.
What we cannot do is impose a fine on members who have acted in breach of the standards we expect of them nor order/award compensation to wronged clients.
What we can do is to try and mediate an acceptable compromise between the member and client and/or sanction/terminate the membership of those members who we believe failed to live up to expect standards.
However, if the problem has still not been resolved to your satisfaction and the IoP member is also a member of the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR), it may be possible that the PPR will be able to help resolve the matter. If this additional process is required you should go to the PPR website - www.ppr.org.uk and download the PPR Complaints Procedure.
The laws of defamation and other relevant laws still apply to complaints, and so both the complainant and the member may be subject to legal action from the other (or a third party) if they feel what was said constitutes a legal wrong.
In the interests of fairness, the Institute reserves the right to show all communications receive from the client to the member and vice-versa
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 [email protected]
sTANDARDS FOR PARALEGALS
REGULATIONS AND PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT