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Code of Practice

Chapter 11: Complaints

A notary’s clients and persons who have been refused notarial services have the right to make a complaint about the notary who provided (or refused to provide) those services, and to have that complaint resolved.  Notaries are required to inform clients of their right to make a complaint and the procedure for doing so [Practice Rule 8].

A notary must provide clients with a signposting notice that explains the right to complain and how a complaint may be made when accepting instructions for professional work or changing the terms on which he or she is acting [Practice Rule 8.1].  Practice Rule 8.2 clarifies that the signposting notice may be provided by e-mail.  A reference to the notary’s complaints procedure being available on the notary’s website or otherwise on request is not sufficient to comply with Practice Rule 8.

Notaries are expected to deal with any complaints about their services promptly and courteously and whenever it is reasonable to do so, to the satisfaction of the complainants.

Any complaints that a notary is unable to resolve to the satisfaction of the complainant will be referred to the Scriveners Company, if the notary against whom the complaint is made is a scrivener notary, to the Notaries Society if the notary against whom the complaint is made is a member of that society (but not a scrivener notary), or in any other case to the Faculty Office.  If a complaint cannot be resolved in this manner, it may be referred to the Legal Ombudsman.

Normally, a client cannot use the Legal Ombudsman to resolve a complaint unless the client has first used the notary’s complaints procedure [Chapter 4, paragraph 1 of the Legal Ombudsman Scheme Rules] and the second-tier complaints procedure provided by a Designated Society or the Faculty Office, but a client can refer a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman if the complaint has not been resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction within eight weeks of being made to the notary, or an ombudsman considers that there are exceptional reasons to consider the complaint sooner, or without it having been made first to the notary; or where an ombudsman considers that in-house resolution is not possible due to irretrievable breakdown in the relationship between the notary and the client [Chapter 4, paragraph 2 of the Legal Ombudsman Scheme Rules].

Not all clients have the right to use the Legal Ombudsman Scheme, but the signposting notice must be provided to all clients, and as a matter of good practice a complaint from a client of any nature should be dealt with fairly and in a prompt and courteous manner.

  • Clients can engage the services of a notary with confidence in the right of redress should services not be up to the expected standard.
  • Complaints are dealt with fairly and in a prompt and courteous manner.
  • Complaints that are not dealt with to the client’s satisfaction by a notary are dealt with impartially and fairly by a Designated Society or the Faculty Office.
  • You provide clients with a signposting notice when accepting instructions for professional work or changing the terms on which you act and provide any explanations that clients may request of your complaints procedure.
  • Your complaints procedure is convenient and easy to use (in particular for complainants who are vulnerable or have disabilities).
  • You allow complaints to be made by any reasonable means.
  • You deal with complaints promptly and courteously.
  • If you find a complaint to be justified sufficient investigation of the circumstances, you offer a suitable remedy.
  • If you find a complaint not to be justified, you set out your reasons concisely and clearly in writing to the client.
  • You are aware of the rights of consumers under consumer rights legislation and take these into account when dealing with complaints.
  • You consult the Legal Ombudsman Scheme Rules regularly so as to ensure that you are aware of any amendments.
  • You fail to inform clients of their right to complain.
  • You are dismissive of complaints or respond discourteously to complainants.
  • You attempt to charge a fee for dealing with a complaint.
  • You do not offer a remedy or an adequate remedy in the event of a complaint being justified.
  • You fail to comply with consumer rights legislation when dealing with consumers.