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Consumer

Introduction

The Client Charter identifies the Outcomes which clients of our regulated community have the right to expect and the options available to them if their expectations are not met.

Client Charter

To view the printable PDF version, please click here.

When you obtain servicesfrom an individual or businesses regulated by the CLC, you are entitled to the following outcomes:

Service

  • You receive an honest and lawful service
  • You are provided with a high standard legal service
  •  The service is accessible and responsive to your individual needs.
  •  You do not feel discriminated against, victimised or harassed.
  •  Where the service you receive is below the standard you could expect your lawyer accepts responsibility for this and provides you with any appropriate redress.
  • Should you make a complaint the way it is handled takes account of your individual needs.
  • Should you make a complaint it is dealt with swiftly, impartially and comprehensively.

Advice

  •  You receive good quality and independent information, representation and advice.
  •  You receive advice appropriate to your circumstance.
  •  You have the information you need to make informed decisions

Money and Fees

  •  Your money is held separately from other monies and is kept safely.
  •  You are aware of any referral of work arrangements the lawyer may have with other parties.
  •  You are aware of any relationship with another party that limits the steps your lawyer can take on your behalf.

Professional Conduct

  •  Your affairs are treated confidentially (except as required or permitted by law, or with your consent).
  •  Your best interests are served.
  •  Your lawyer acts in the interests of justice.*
  • Your lawyer acts in good faith towards you.*
  •  Your lawyer acts in accordance with their regulatory responsibilities.

* Applicable to CLC Litigators and Advocates

Principled Behaviour
All lawyers - be they an individual CLC licensed conveyancer, CLC Litigator or Advocate, or a company - regulated by the CLC are required to deliver these 
Outcomes by acting in a principled manner:

  •  To act with independence and integrity;
  • To maintain high standards of work;
  •  To act in the best interests of Clients;
  •  To deal with regulators and ombudsmen in an open and co-operative way; and
  •  To promote equality of access and service.
  • If they are a CLC Litigator or Advocate we also require them:
  • To comply with their duty to the court.

We monitor the bodies/individuals we regulate to ensure these principles are complied with.
We use a range of information to identify when a lawyer has not demonstrated the professional and principled behaviour we require of them. This includes the findings of our inspections and 
information from other stakeholders, such as lenders, police or clients, including complaints.

Complaints
If you have not received the standard of service you could reasonably expect, you should complain to your lawyer. If you are not satisfied with how they deal with your complaint - or they haven’t responded within eight weeks of you submitting the complaint - you can complain to the independent:
Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 15870
Birmingham
B30 9EB
Telephone number: 0300 555 0333
Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk

Your complaint should be submitted to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of you receiving from your lawyer a full written response to your initial complaint to them (and within 12 months of you discovering a problem).If your complaint is service-related the Legal Ombudsman will deal with it and may ultimately award you compensation which your lawyer must pay to you.

 If your complaint is conduct related the Legal Ombudsman will pass it to us to deal with. If we determine the complaint in your favour we may take regulatory action against the person or body which delivered your legal service. We will always seek to deal with an issue informally wherever possible so that it can be resolved in a timely manner for you. If however an issue is immediate, serious and/or widespread, or where an informal approach has not been successful, we will take enforcement action. The form this takes will be proportionate to the impact the issue had, or has, on the Outcomes identified on page 1 of this leaflet. 

We may fine them; place conditions on their licence (which, if not complied with, will result in further enforcement steps being taken); reprimand them; withdraw our approval of, or disqualify, an individual (meaning they can no longer be employed in that capacity); suspend, or even revoke their licence (so they are no longer able to practise)
We may use one of these enforcement options, we may use several. Where a body is failing, we have reason to suspect dishonesty or need to protect your interests as clients (or beneficiaries of a related Trust) we will intervene. This means we will manage the closure of the business (and the transfer of your matter to another person/body).

Compensation
Should a body we regulate have failed to account for monies received or you have suffered due to its negligence, fraud or other dishonesty, you may be eligible for a grant from our Compensation Fund.

How to contact us
For more information on how the CLC regulates the lawyers it licenses or to check whether an individual or body is regulated by us please visit our website: http://www.clc-uk.org/, email us on 
policy@clc-uk.org or by phone: 0207 250 8465
.

Code of Conduct

To view the printable PDF version, please click here.

Introduction

This Code of Conduct was made in accordance with s.20 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 and s.83 of the Legal Services Act 2007.  
All individuals and bodies regulated by the CLC must comply with this Code and its associated regulatory arrangements. In this Code “you” refers to individuals and bodies (and the employees and managers within them) regulated by the CLC.  You must not permit anyone else to act or fail to act in such a way as to amount to a breach of this Code.  Your main driver should be the delivery of positive client outcomes. The Code comprises principles and specific requirements, which taken together deliver positive Outcomes for your Clients and, particularly in relation to Overriding Principle 6, for others you deal with. 

To effectively secure the protection of, and the provision of choice for, the consumer of legal services, you must at all times comply with the following Overriding Principles: 
1.     Act with independence and integrity;
2.     Maintain high standards of work; 
3.     Act in the best interests of your Clients; 
4.     Comply with your duty to the court;  
5.     Deal with regulators and ombudsmen in an open and co-operative way;
6.     Promote equality of access and service.
These are underpinned by principles of behaviour which must be demonstrated and specific requirements which must be complied with in order that the Overriding Principles are supported.
Disciplinary proceedings may be taken against you if the CLC believes there has been a breach of this Code, meaning that clients do not receive the standard of legal services they should reasonably expect to receive. The CLC’s response will be informed by the CLC’s Regulatory and Enforcement Policies.  
In exceptional circumstances the CLC may waive a provision, or provisions, of the regulatory arrangements for an individual, body or circumstance for a particular purpose, or purposes, and with the conditions specified in the waiver.

Overriding Principle 1.    Act with independence and integrity
Outcomes - you must deliver the following Outcomes: 
1.1    Clients receive good quality independent information, representation and     
         advice;
1.2            Clients receive an honest and lawful service;
1.3    Client money is kept separately and safely.
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Principles - delivery of these Outcomes requires you to act in a principled way:
a)    You do not allow your independence to be compromised. 
b)    You act honestly, professionally and decently.
c)    You do not conduct yourself in a manner which may result in a breach of the law nor in any other manner which may bring the legal profession into disrepute. 
d)    You carry on Reserved Legal Activity only through a person entitled to carry on that activity.

e)    You do not give false or misleading information relating to the provision of Regulated Services.
f)    You do not allow fee arrangements to prejudice your independence or professional judgement.
g)    You do not conduct business under a misleading name.
h)    You keep Client money safe.
i)    You do not publicise your business through unsolicited communications in person or by telephone.
j)    Your advertising is clear, accurate and fair.
k)    You keep Client money entirely separate from your money or the money of the entity.
l)    You do not take unfair advantage of any person, whether or not a Client of the business.
    
Specific Requirements - you must also comply with the following specific requirements: 
m)    You comply with anti-money laundering and prevention of financing terrorism legislation.
n)    When acting as a CLC licensee, you accept instructions only to act in a matter which is regulated by the CLC.
o)    All business communications, websites and office premises display information confirming the entity is regulated by the CLC and the names of the Managers (identifying those who are Authorised Persons).


 Overriding Principle 2.   Maintain high standards of work
Outcomes- you must deliver the following Outcomes:
2.1 Clients are provided with a high standard of legal services; 
2.2      Client matters are dealt with using care, skill and diligence;
2.3 Appropriate arrangements, resources, procedures, skills and commitment
            are in place to ensure Clients always receive a high standard of service.
Principles - delivery of these Outcomes requires you to act in a principled way:  
a)     You provide the level of service appropriate for, and agreed with, the Client.
b)       You keep your skills and legal knowledge up-to-date.
c)       You ensure all individuals within the entity are competent to do their work.
d)       You supervise and regularly check the quality of work in Client matters.
e)       You comply fully with any undertaking given by you.
f)       You systematically identify and mitigate risks to the business and to Clients.
       g)        You promote ethical practice and compliance with regulatory requirements.
       h)     You enable staff to raise concerns which are acted on appropriately.
i)     You maintain proper governance, management, supervision, financial, and
        risk management arrangements and controls.  
j)    You administer oaths, affirmations and declarations properly.
k) You deliver services in accordance with timetables reasonably agreed with  
        the Client.
      Specific Requirements - you must also comply with the following specific requirements: 
l)    Control of an entity is from a permanent fixed address in England or Wales. 
m)  A Manager who is an Authorised Person is responsible for ensuring that all of the entity’s employees are properly supervised. 
n)  You make provision for alternative supervision arrangements in case of illness, accident or other unforeseen event. 
o)    You maintain proper records to evidence your arrangements and controls and how they are applied.


Overriding Principle 3.     Act in the best interests of your Clients
Outcomes - you must deliver the following Outcomes:
3.1     Each Client’s best interests are served; 
3.2     Clients receive advice appropriate to their circumstances; 
3.3     Clients have the information they need to make informed decisions;
3.4     Clients are aware of any referral arrangements and that they are consistent
          with your responsibilities both to them and to the CLC;
3.5     Clients are aware of any limitation or any condition resulting from your 
            relationship with another party;
3.6     Clients’ affairs are treated confidentially (except as required or permitted
     by law or with the Client’s consent).
Principles - delivery of these Outcomes requires you to act in a principled way: 
        a)    You only accept instructions and act in relation to matters which are within your professional competence.
b)    You keep the interests of the Client paramount (except as required by the law or the CLC’s regulatory arrangements).
c)      You do not act for a Client where you judge it is not in their best interests for you to do so.
d)    You do not accept instructions from a person nor continue to act for a Client
        whose interests conflict directly with your own, the entity’s, or another Client.
e)    You disclose client information only as the Client has instructed (or as required by the CLC’s regulatory arrangements or by law), keeping effective records of any disclosures you make.
f)    You only recommend a particular person, business or product when it is in the best interests of the Client.
g)    You cease acting in a matter if the Client so instructs or, in the absence of such instructions where it is reasonable to do so.
h)    You provide the Client with information which is accurate, useful and appropriate to the particular Client.    
i)    You only provide Regulated Services whilst you have CLC-approved professional indemnity insurance in force. 
j)    You provide the Client with all relevant information relating to any fee arrangements or fee changes. 
k)  You advise Clients of the name and status of the person dealing with their matter and the name of the person responsible for overall supervision. 
l)  You consult Clients on key decisions in a timely way.
m)    You promptly advise Clients of any significant changes to projected costs, timelines and strategies.
Specific Requirements- you must also comply with the following specific requirements: 
n)    Where the entity represents parties with different interests in any transaction each party is at all times represented by different Authorised Persons conducting themselves in the matter as though they were members of different entities. 
o) You ensure there are adequate indemnity arrangements in respect of claims made against you for work carried out by you before you have ceased to practice by purchasing professional indemnity insurance for a minimum of 6 years from the expiry of the period of professional indemnity insurance stated in your evidence of insurance or policy document. 
p)    If you seek to exclude or limit liability, you do so only to the extent that such exclusion or limitation is above the minimum level of cover provided by CLC-approved professional indemnity insurance; you must obtain the written informed consent of the Client for such exclusion or limitation to be effective.
q)  When offering and providing services which are not regulated by the CLC, you advise your Client of this and inform them in writing that the activity is not covered by CLC-approved professional indemnity insurance or the CLC-administered Compensation Fund.
r)  Before or when accepting instructions, you inform Clients in writing of the terms on which the instructions are accepted, a complete, accurate estimate of fees and disbursements to be charged and if and when they are likely to change. 
s)    You promptly inform the Client in writing of the existence and amount of any sum payable (whether directly or indirectly) as a result of receipt of that Client’s instructions.
t)    With the exception of disbursements, you do not delay completion because fees are outstanding to you.
u)    You discuss and agree with the Client how costs will be paid, whether directly by the Client, by public funding, through an insurance policy or otherwise. 

Overriding Principle 4. Comply with your duty to the court
Note: this Principle will only be applicable if the CLC’s application to regulate advocacy and litigation services is successful 
Outcomes - you must deliver the following Outcomes: 
4.1     You act in the interests of justice;
4.2     You act in good faith towards Clients.
Principles - delivery of these Outcomes requires you to act in a principled way:
a)    You promote and protect the client’s best interests.
b)    You do not compromise your professional standards or independence.
c)    You assist the court in the administration of justice.
d)    You do not knowingly or recklessly mislead or deceive the court, or allow the court to be misled.
e)    You ensure that the Court is informed of all relevant decisions and legislative provisions (whether this has a favourable or unfavourable effect on the case you are advancing). 

f)    You comply with any Court Order (unless an application for a stay is pending or the Order has been revoked by the Court).
g)    You advise your Client to comply with Court Orders and of the consequences of failing to do so.

h)    You properly protect sensitive evidence.

i)    You safeguard the well being of children and other vulnerable persons. 

Specific Requirement - you must also comply with the following specific requirement: 
j)     You ensure that the court is made aware of any relevant legal or factual
      matters which are likely to have a material effect on the outcome of the 
      proceedings. 

Overriding Principle 5. Deal with regulators and ombudsmen in an open and 
co-operative way.

Outcome - you must deliver the following Outcome: 
Principles - delivery of these Outcomes requires you to act in a principled way:  
a)    You are open and honest in your dealings with us.
b)    You comply with the CLC Code of Conduct and the CLC’s other regulatory arrangements.
c)    You comply promptly and fully with a CLC direction or request.
d)    You comply with any authorisation, permission or condition endorsed on your licence, Recognised Body Certificate or Licensed Body Licence.
e)    You co-operate with any CLC investigation.
f)    You co-operate with any Legal Ombudsman investigation.
g)    You comply promptly and fully with any Legal Ombudsman Order.
h)    You co-operate with other regulators and ombudsmen.

Specific Requirements - you must also comply with the following specific requirements: 
i)    You make the Compensation Fund contribution determined by the CLC.
j)     You systematically identify, monitor and manage risks to the delivery of this Code’s outcomes.
k) You promptly notify insurers in writing of any facts or matters which may give 
       rise to a claim under CLC-approved professional indemnity insurance. 
l)    You promptly notify the CLC in writing of any facts or matters which may give rise to a
        claim under its Compensation Fund.
m)    As a CLC licensee operating in an entity regulated by another regulator you must comply with that regulator’s regulations at all times in a way which is reasonably consistent with this Code.
n)    You obtain permission from the CLC before  offering Reserved legal activities:

  •   as a new business;
  •    in an entity regulated by another Approved Regulator; or
  •    through an entity with a Manager who is not a Licensed Conveyancer.

o)    You notify the CLC of any material breach of this Code, whether by you, the entity or any other person. 
p)    You notify the CLC of a change as set out in the CLC’s Notification Code.   


Overriding Principle 6.      Promote equality of access and service. 
Outcomes - you must deliver the following Outcomes: - 
6.1    The service is accessible and responsive to the needs of individual Clients, including those who are vulnerable;1 
6.2    No-one - Client, employee, colleague, job applicant, trainee or other party - you deal with feels discriminated2 against (whether directly or indirectly), victimised or harassed;
6.3    You accept responsibility where the service you provide is not of the expected standard and provide appropriate redress for the Client where necessary;        
6.4    Handling of complaints takes proper account of Clients’ individual needs, including those who are vulnerable;
6.5    Complaints are dealt with impartially and comprehensively.  

Principles - delivery of these Outcomes requires you to act in a principled way:  
a)    You comply with Equalities legislation.

b)    You make reasonable adjustments to prevent persons with disabilities from being placed at a substantial disadvantage. 

c)    You provide equal opportunities for all partners, employees or applicants in  employment and training.

d)  You make all reasonable efforts to ensure your service is accessible and responsive to Clients, including those with vulnerabilities.
e)    The complaints procedure is clear, well-publicised and free. 
f)    You treat complaints seriously and provide appropriate redress options.  
g)    You deal with complaints fairly and within 28 days.
h)    You identify and address systemic Client Complaints issues.
Specific Requirements - you must also comply with the following specific requirements: 
i)    Any allegation of (direct or indirect) discrimination, victimisation and harassment is investigated thoroughly, resulting, where appropriate, in disciplinary action.
j)    From the outset you advise Clients in writing of their right to make a complaint, how to make it, to whom, and the timeframes involved. 
k)    You advise Clients in writing of their right to have their complaint escalated to the Legal Ombudsman and provide them with contact details and timeframes of that body. 
l)    You keep a record of complaints received and any action taken as a result.
1 a Client may be vulnerable because of a range of characteristics, including (but not limited to): basic skills: literacy and numeracy; complexity and confusion: difficulty of accessing and understanding large amounts of information; disability or other impairment; mental health issues; distress or sudden change in circumstances e.g. bereavement, divorce, illness or loss of employment; low income; age; caring responsibilities; limited knowledge of, or limited skills in, use of English; balance of power: lack of competition and or choice; or inexperience or lack of knowledge of a particular subject. Vulnerability can only be assessed on a case-by-case basis. 
2 On the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marital and civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or faith, sex or sexual orientation.