Complaints procedure

Where to send a complaint, a compensation claim, a Member of Parliament query and Ombudsman correspondence.

Complaints procedure

If you are unhappy with the level of service provided by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) we would welcome your feedback. We will respond to your complaint within 20 working days of receipt provided the published procedure has been followed.

We will only respond to complaints in relation to our staff and/or processes involved in the administration of legal aid.

We will not respond to complaints regarding:

  • a solicitor – these should be referred to the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority or the Legal Ombudsman
  • any other Civil Service department or agency

You can submit your complaint by post or email using the following complaint form (MS Word Document, 71.1KB). You can also submit your complaint via telephone. You can contact us here:

Email: LAAcomplaints@justice.gov.uk

Telephone: 0300 200 20 20

Post: Complaints, Legal Aid Agency, Unit B8, Berkley Way, Viking Business Park, Jarrow, NE31 1SF

Stage one complaints

If you are writing to us but are not using the complaint form (MS Word Document, 71.1KB) clearly mark your letter ‘Complaint’. This helps us to deal with your complaint quickly and efficiently.

When contacting us with your complaint, please provide:

  • your legal aid reference number (if you have one)
  • (clients only) your surname at birth and date of birth and national insurance number (if you don’t have a reference number)
  • your contact details so that we can respond

Explain what you are complaining about, and give as much detail about your complaint as possible. Make it clear what you feel is wrong and how you would like us to put things right.

Stage two complaints

If you are unhappy with our initial response, you can send a further complaint for consideration by a stage two complaints handler to LAAcomplaints@justice.gov.uk

If you are writing to us but are not using the complaint form (MS Word Document, 71.1KB) clearly mark your letter ‘Complaint’. We will arrange for a second review of your complaint by a different complaint handler.

We will need the following information:

  • explain why you are unhappy with the initial reply and what issues remain unanswered
  • suggest how you believe the situation ought to be remedied
  • provide us with further information in support of unresolved issues (where requested)

If you are dissatisfied with our stage two response you have the right to ask your MP to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

We aim to respond to follow up correspondence received in response to LAA’s substantive reply, where a further response is possible within 20 working days.

Useful information

Before we can respond to complaints received via email we need to verify the identity of the writer, therefore the following information should be provided. Until we have this information we will not be able to investigate and respond to any concerns raised.

Please provide three of the following;

  • your legal aid reference number (if applicable)
  • your full address including postcode (this should be the address the Legal Aid Agency holds on file for you)
  • your date of birth
  • your national insurance number
  • name of solicitor firm with conduct of case
  • password on file (if applicable)
  • contribution Amount (if applicable)
  • name of opponent (s)

Correspondence that is not a complaint

Certain correspondence cannot be classed by LAA as a complaint and should instead be referred to the appropriate appeals procedure. This includes:

  • a challenge or an expression of dissatisfaction with a decision to refuse an application for funding or to embargo or cancel funding (this includes IOJ decisions).
  • a challenge to an assessment of costs after submission of a claim for payment
  • a challenge to a decision that the statutory charge applies
  • a challenge to the agency’s assessment of a client’s financial eligibility for funding
  • a challenge or an expression of dissatisfaction with a decision to reject an item of billing. The civil claim fix service enables providers to challenge rejects received or to raise queries in this respect circumventing the complaint route. This service has a 24-hour turnaround target and providers must email details to laacivilclaimfix@justice.gov.uk

We also do not accept representations/allegations of fraud against the granting of legal aid to any individual via this mail box. In these circumstances please email Manchester.representations@justice.gov.uk

Please make sure you have provided as many details as possible in order to identify the certificate being challenged such as case reference number, name, address and date of birth. Please note that this team only investigate allegations of fraud on civil cases and these are dealt separately to the organisation’s complaint process.

MP correspondence and Ombudsman investigations

Queries from Members of Parliament and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman should be submitted to CorporateCorrespondenceTeam@justice.gov.uk

We will respond to MP correspondence within 20 working days.

Compensation claims

The circumstances in which the LAA may make a compensation payment are limited to those where there has been a material error or omission on the part of the LAA that has directly resulted in a financial loss (known as maladministration) to the applicant.

Compensation payments will not be paid unless the applicant has been able to produce, where appropriate, documentary evidence of the losses claimed.

It is for the applicant to prove that the conduct of the regional office or a department constituted maladministration. We will require the figure you wish to claim along with a full and detailed breakdown of costs, along with any evidence you wish to supply. Once this has been received we will consider your application.

We will aim to provide a response to Compensation claims within 20 working days.

Useful contacts

Contact the LAA

Solicitor Regulation Authority

Legal Ombudsman

Other government organisations

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman