Making the decision to investigate
When we receive a complaint or report we first assess the information brought to our attention. This helps us decide if we should investigate.
Firstly, we need to confirm if the information relates to an individual or firm we regulate. If not, the matter falls outside our jurisdiction, and we proceed no further.
If it does, we decide whether it suggests a breach of our Code of Conduct.
This does not mean that we accept a complainant’s description of events but will use our own assessment of the relevant issues.
We focus our resource on the most serious complaints and reports. These can be serious in isolation or because they form part of a persistent failure to comply or a pattern of behaviour.
Therefore, we will not investigate a potential breach that is minor in nature, where the evidence suggests it is unlikely to be repeated and there is no ongoing risk. However, we will keep a record of the information so that, if we receive further information in the future, we can identify patterns that indicate a more serious issue.
We consider both the evidence given to us and that we are able to gather to support the complaint. This could be from the complainant, the firm or individual complained about, or from any third party.
As some complainants find it difficult to articulate their concerns or find the evidence they need, we will ensure that we explore all ways to substantiate serious concerns.
CRL will only take a complaint or report further, where the answer to all three questions is ‘yes’. Sometimes, we may gather more information by carrying out some initial investigation to help us decide.
We will tell the person who made the complaint or report whether the matter will be investigated or not.
Where the concerns appear to relate solely to poor service, complainants should contact the Legal Ombudsman, who has powers to investigate service and provide redress to clients. Unless the information also suggests a serious breach, we will not investigate the matter further.
When we investigate
We may ask you for more details and gather information from other people and organisations, such as the person’s employer, the police, other law enforcement agencies, other regulators, and potential witnesses.
We will usually tell the person or firm you have reported about the case to give them a chance to respond. We may ask you to comment on their response, or the information we have gathered, if we decide that it will help with the case.
After we have gathered all the information we need, we will review it and either:
It is important to know that we are independent and do not represent you, or any of the people or firms we regulate. We act independently to uphold the standards expected of those we regulate and to help ensure that they do not harm their customers or the public.