Complaints procedure

How to make a complaint about the Insolvency Service.

The Insolvency Service is committed to providing a professional, fair, efficient, and courteous service to our customers. Our customers are bankrupts, directors, debtors, creditors, insolvency practitioners, redundant employees or anyone who contacts us.

If you are not happy with the service you have received from us, we want you to tell us. We’ll try to resolve your complaint and make sure it does not happen again. This guide tells you how to make a complaint about the service we provide.

What can I complain about?

We will look at complaints where you feel that we’ve failed to provide our usual standard of service. This might be where:

  • there were unreasonable delays
  • we’ve made mistakes with your case
  • we have not followed our own policies or processes
  • you feel a member of our staff has not acted appropriately

We will not look at a complaint if you have already been through our complaints procedure. We also will not look at complaints where:

  • you’re trying to start or escalate a complaint that’s over the time limit
  • you’re complaining about legal matters or government policy
  • we’ve already told you about a more appropriate solution, like taking court action, going to an employment tribunal, or contacting the police
  • you want to request information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Data Protection Act 1998

Our complaints process cannot be used to re-examine a decision about your case, unless there is evidence that we have not followed the correct processes, policies or legislation. In such cases a complaint is unlikely to be upheld and you may be directed to a more appropriate course of action to challenge the decision. Where we think this is the case, we will tell you and we may not progress your complaint any further.

Complaint time limits

You have to complain within:

  • 6 months after the issue happened, or
  • 6 months after you became aware of the issue

You have 3 months after we’ve sent our last reply to you to escalate an existing complaint.

We will not review complaints submitted outside these time limits unless you send us evidence that shows there were exceptional circumstances why you didn’t send your complaint sooner.

Our complaints procedure

Before sending a complaint, you should try to resolve your issue with the person you’ve been dealing with, or their manager. If you are not able to resolve the issue, it could be investigated under our complaints process.

Tier 1

If you have not been able to resolve your concern with the person you’ve been dealing with or their manager, this is where you contact us. We will look at your complaint and decide on the best way to resolve it.

Tier 2

If you are not happy with our reply, you should contact us again within 3 months of our last response. Your complaint and our earlier response will be reviewed by a senior member of staff not involved in your case.

Tier 3

If you are still not happy, you can contact us again within 3 months of your last response, and ask our Chief Executive to investigate your complaint.

At Tier 2 and Tier 3 of our complaint process, our senior managers and the Chief Executive do not treat your concerns as a new complaint. They will review your case to make sure we handled your complaint appropriately, proportionately and fairly up to that point. At each tier, they cannot look at any new evidence or aspects of your complaint, if you have not sent these to us before.

At the end of each tier of our complaints procedure, we will advise you on how to take your complaint further should you remain dissatisfied. We might tell you about another course of action that’s outside of our complaints procedure.

How do I send a complaint?

You can make a complaint by:

Complaints Team
The Insolvency Service
4 Abbey Orchard Street
London
SW1P 2HT

Please do not send complaints to any other Insolvency Service email address, as it might take us a lot longer to respond to you.

What should I include in my complaint?

You should give us:

  • your name and address
  • the name of the bankrupt or insolvent company, if there is one
  • the court reference and/or case reference, if you have it
  • background details of your complaint
  • copies of any correspondence or documents that your complaint is about
  • the name of the staff member you wrote or spoke to and when
  • details about what has gone wrong
  • how you would like us to resolve your complaint

How long do you take to reply?

We aim to reply to 85% of Tier 1 and Tier 2 complaints within 10 working days. If this is not possible, we’ll write to you within 5 working days to tell you why and when you can expect a full reply. We aim to fully reply to 95% of Tier 1 and Tier 2 complaints within 20 working days.

As Tier 3 complaint reviews are usually more complicated, our Chief Executive aims to investigate and conclude 80% of these within 3 months. We will acknowledge receipt of Tier 3 complaints within 5 working days.

We know that every complaint is different, so we’ll deal with each one in the most appropriate way.

What standards of service can I expect from you?

We’ll always give a high standard of service, but if we make a mistake you can expect any of the following:

  • an apology
  • an explanation
  • an assurance that the same mistake will not happen again
  • details of what we did to put things right
  • in certain circumstances, financial compensation

Unreasonable customer behaviour

We always try to provide a high quality service, and deal with correspondence and complaints in a way that’s fair and transparent.

Occasionally, some customers behave in a way that can make it very difficult for us to help them effectively. In a small number of cases, some customer behaviour is not acceptable because they abuse our staff or our processes. On other occasions we have to consider whether a customer’s actions are affecting our ability to do our work and provide a service to others. In such instances we might have to limit the contact those customers have with us.

Find out more about unreasonable customer behaviour and what action we might take.

Claiming back your costs from us

If we make a mistake or caused an unreasonable delay, you might be able to claim any additional costs you have had to pay as a direct result of our error. The compensation will depend on the nature and circumstances of the mistake, and the actual loss or costs you had to pay. Each claim is considered on its own merits.

Compensation for worry and distress caused directly by the Insolvency Service

Unfortunately the nature of our business sometimes leads to stress for our customers. We cannot control this, but we know that if we make a mistake or cause an unreasonable delay, we could cause you more worry, inconvenience or irritation. In these circumstances, we might offer you some compensation to acknowledge our mistake, and to apologise for the way we’ve treated you.

These payments are not intended to put a value on the distress you have suffered. The payments will range from £25 to a maximum of £250.

Further mistakes or delays in dealing with your complaint

If we handle your complaint badly or take an unreasonable amount of time to deal with it, we might pay you compensation on top of any reasonable costs. These payments will range from £25 to a maximum of £250.

What if I disagree with the final outcome of my complaint?

If are not happy with our final response, the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman might investigate your complaint. The ombudsman is independent from the government. You cannot complain directly to the Ombudsman, as an Member of Parliament (MP) must refer a complaint to them. You can find your MP’s contact details on www.parliament.uk

The ombudsman will expect you to have finished our internal complaints procedure before they will investigate your complaint. We’ll tell you when you’ve reached the end of the complaints procedure.

Find information about the ombudsman on their website

What if my complaint is not about the Insolvency Service?

You might want to complain to the Insolvency Service about something else, like:

  • a bankrupt person or a director of a company in liquidation, administration or administrative receivership
  • a director or sole trader is re-using the name (or a similar name) of a company in liquidation
  • a disqualified director
  • an active limited company
  • an insolvency practitioner (for example a trustee, liquidator, administrator or supervisor of an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA))

In all of these cases, you can follow the steps in ‘make a complaint to the Insolvency Service’ to find the right place to complain.

Government policy or legislation

If you want to complain about a particular government policy or legislation on insolvency or employment rights, you can write to the relevant minister or your local MP. You can find the right minister or find your MP on GOV.UK or the House of Commons website.

Court orders

You might want to complain about an order made by the court. For example, if you think the court should not have made you bankrupt. In these cases, you should contact the court that made the order.

More information

We monitor all complaints to make sure we meet our standards and find out how we can make improvements.