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Complaint Resolution Process

1. Introduction

Sciaccas Lawyers (“Sciaccas”)recognises an individual’s right to make a complaint about the conduct of our operations, services, staff or processes, where that individual’s interests appear to have been adversely and unjustifiably impacted by such conduct.

Sciaccas Lawyers encourages an organisational culture that responds to such complaints in an open and constructive manner and in accordance with principles of procedural fairness.

This document sets out a Complaint Resolution Process for the following entities of the Sciaccas Legal Group:

  • Sciaccas Lawyers Pty Ltd ABN 74 126 179 084;
  • Sciaccas Family Lawyers Pty Ltd ABN 81 159 740 235;

2. Definitions

In the context of this document:

Complainant” means the person making the complaint;

Complaint” means the informal or formal expression of a concern in regard to some aspect of the conduct of Sciaccas Lawyers operations, services, staff, or processes, where the Complainant appears to have been adversely impacted by such conduct, and the Complainant wishes to seek redress;

Complaints Officer” means any staff member who is appointed to advise on and assist with the resolution of informal or formal complaints;

Formal Complaint” means a concern which has not been resolved informally, which is then set out in writing and forwarded to Sciaccas;

Informal Complaint” means a concern, dissatisfaction, or frustration that can be solved without formal action;

Respondent” means the person who is a subject of the Complaint.

3. Procedure

3.1 Informal Complaint

Many problems can be resolved informally, either by a direct approach to the person or group whose actions have given rise to the Complaint, or indirectly by other means.

A direct approach may be made face to face or by phone, but can also be by email or in writing. Direct, open, and cooperative dialogue can often lead to a better understanding of the problem, and a quick and satisfactory resolution. The complainant should keep notes of the actions that he/she takes, and be aware that the principles of confidentiality apply to him/her, as well as the other participant.

Should an Informal Complaint directly to the subject of the Complaint be unsatisfactorily handled, an Informal Complaint should be made to the Partner of Sciaccas responsible for the matter. The Partner in charge of a particular matter is noted at the top of all of our correspondence, and a list of Partners along with contact details can be found on our website.

If a complainant is not comfortable making a direct approach, an informal complaint may be made indirectly through the Complaints Officer.

3.2 Formal Complaint

Should a Complaint not be resolved at the informal stage, or is otherwise of a more serious nature, than a Formal Complaint should be made to the Complaints Officer.

A formal complaint must be submitted by the complainant, in writing, setting out the details of the complaint, including the background, the grounds of the complaint, the facts relied upon (the evidence), and the redress sought, together with all supporting documentation. All the information in support of the complaint should be provided at the beginning of the process.

On receipt of a formal complaint, the Complaints Officer will:

  1. Register and acknowledge receipt of the Complaint to the Complainant within 5 working days;
  2. Clarify the Complainants issues, consulting with the Complainant and other parties where necessary;
  3. Consider whether the Complain requires or warrants referral to an outside agency due to its nature and subject, such as where a Complaint contains potentially criminal acts;
  4. Assess the most suitable method for dealing with the Complaint, for example if the Complaint is best resolved by negotiation, mediation, or further investigation;
  5. Ensure that steps are taken within 15 working days to begin resolution of the Complaint, and inform the Respondent about the process for resolution;
  6. If it is not possible to resolve the Complaint within 15 working days, to update the Complainant and Respondent on the progress of the Complaint every 15 working days;
  7. Inform the Respondent and the Complainant of the outcome of the Complaint and any action taken to resolve the Complaint;
  8. Oversee any recommended changes to company policy or processes recommended as a result of the outcome of the Complaint.

3.3 Referral to Outside Agencies

Any person may at any time make a complaint to an external agency, such as the Legal Services Commission or the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. The Regulator will generally only act once all internal stages of the complaint process have been exhausted.

Sciaccas may cease to deal with a Complaint once referred to an outside agency.

4. General

4.1 This process applies to all members and staff of Sciaccas Lawyers and provides a single system to deal with disputes.

4.2 Complaints will generally not be accepted if the event which is the cause of the Complaint occurred longer than 12 months ago.

4.3 A Complainant may withdraw their Complaint at any time.

4.4 If a Formal Complaint has not been resolved within a reasonable timeframe, or the processes used to resolve the Complaint have been defective, a request for a review of the procedures can be lodged by the Complainant.

4.5 At any time a Complainant who is dissatisfied with the outcome and a Complaint or the processes used to resolve the Complaint is entitled to raise their concerns with the Legal Services Commission.

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