Complaints Handling Procedure
Pursuant to Section 6.28 of the Legal Profession Regulation (Verordening op de advocatuur) De Groot Law has implemented the following Complaints Handling Procedure (Kantoorklachtenregeling). Diederik de Groot is the Complaints Handling Officer.
Complaints Handling Procedure of De Groot Law Firm (“DGL”)
Clause 1 Definitions
For purposes of this Complaints Handling Procedure:
- Subject of a Complaint means the staff member against whom a complaint has been filed;
- Complaint means any written expression of dissatisfaction by or on behalf of a former or current client or (interested) third party about DGL’s or a staff member’s conduct in the conclusion or performance of a contract for services, or about the quality of the services provided or the amount or breakdown of an invoice, all this with the exception of complaints as referred to in Section 46c of the Dutch Lawyers Act (Advocatenwet);
- Complaints Officer means the lawyer whom DGL has charged with the task of handling a complaint;
- Complaints Form means the standard form for filing a Complaint as sent upon request;
- Complainant means any former or current client or third party, or their legal representative, who makes a complaint known to DGL;
- Staff member means any lawyer or any person working at DGL under its supervision;
- Parties means the Complainant and the Subject of a Complaint or, for purposes of Clause 6, the Complainant and DGL;
- Voda means the Regulation for the Legal Profession (Verordening op de advocatuur) of 4 December 2014 (as amended).
Clause 2 Scope
- This Complaints Handling Procedure is a complaints procedure as defined in Sections 6.28 ff. of the Voda.
- This Complaints Handling Procedure governs all contracts for services entered into by DGL and a client.
- If the Complainant so wishes, this Complaints Handling Procedure will be declared applicable to the Complaint of a third party.
- Each and every Staff member must ensure that Complaints are handled in full compliance with this Complaints Handling Procedure.
Clause 3 Purpose
- The purpose of this Complaints Handling Procedure is to ensure that Complaints are handled efficiently, effectively, and constructively within a reasonable period of time. In the light of DGL’s endeavour to improve its services and establish long-lasting relationships with its clients, a proper complaints handling procedure is essential.
Clause 4 Information at the Outset of the Service Provision
- At the start of the service provision, the Staff member concerned must alert the client to the existence of this Complaints Handling Procedure and confirm in writing that this procedure also governs the services provided to the client. Clients will be sent a copy at their written request.
Clause 5 Complaints Procedure
- A Complaint is filed with the Complaints Officer.
- The Complaints Officer decides how a Complaint will be handled and informs the Parties of the progress made in his or her handling of the Complaint.
- The Complaints Officer reports to the Subject of the Complaint that a Complaint has been made against him or her and invites the Complainant to explain the Complaint in greater detail in writing if he or she so wishes.
- The Complaints Officer invites the Subject of the Complaint to express his or her views on the Complaint in writing.
- Where relevant, the Complaints Officer then affords the Parties an opportunity to reach an amicable settlement.
- Having heard both Parties and (where applicable) having allowed the Parties to explore possibilities for an amicable settlement, the Complaints Officer will render his written decision on the Complaint and its merits. The Complaints Officer may attach recommendations to the decision. The decision completes the internal complaints procedure.
- The Complaints Officer endeavours to handle Complaints within four weeks of receipt. If that deadline is impossible to meet, the Complaints Officer will send the Parties a written, reasoned notification informing them when the Complaint will be decided.
Clause 6 Expert Determination Procedure
- If a Complainant does not accept the Complaints Officer’s decision, the Complaint will be submitted to an expert for binding expert determination (bindend advies) at the Complainant’s written request.
- The Parties jointly appoint an expert.
- The binding expert determination procedure of Section 7:900 of the Dutch Civil Code serves as the dispute resolution mechanism referred to in Section 6.29 of the Voda.
- The expert must be independent and impartial and must have demonstrable experience and knowledge in the field of corporate legal practice.
- DGL supplies the Complainant with a list of experts who are considered suitable.
- The Complainant may nominate an expert from the list referred to in Clause 6.5. The nomination is binding and will qualify as a joint appointment by the Parties.
- If the Parties cannot reach agreement about the appointment, either Party may ask the Dean of the Dutch Bar Association in Amsterdam to designate an expert. That designation will qualify as a joint appointment by the Parties.
- The expert decides how the dispute submitted to him or her will be handled.
- The expert endeavours to resolve disputes submitted to him or her by issuing a binding determination within two months of his or her appointment. If that deadline is impossible to meet, the expert will send the Parties a timely reasoned notification in wiring informing them when he or she will issue the binding determination.
- A binding determination is issued in writing.
- The expert will also issue a cost award (including the reasonable costs of legal assistance) as part of the binding determination.
- The Parties may agree on the expert settling the dispute other than in monetary terms.
- The expert sees to it that copies of all documents are sent to the Complaints Officer without delay.
Clause 7 Responsibilities
- The Complaints Officer is responsible for handling Complaints.
- The Complaints Officer keeps a register of Complaints as well as files on all internal complaints and expert determination procedures.
- Complaints about the Complaints Officer may be filed with DGL.
Clause 8 Reporting
- The Complaints Officer must periodically report to the DGL about the Complaints handled. He or she may make recommendations to prevent Complaints or improve the Complaints Handling Procedure.
Clause 9 Confidentiality and Personal Data Protection
- Complaints are handled confidentially.
- All personal data is processed in full compliance with the Dutch Personal Data Protection Act (Wet bescherming persoonsgegevens).
- Personal Data will be shared with third parties only with the express consent of the Subject of the Complaint or if there is another legitimate legal basis for sharing such data.
Clause 10 No fees
- DGL does not charge the Complainant any fees for having the Complaints Officer handle a Complaint.