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If you're not happy with your solicitor/adviser

You have a right to good advice and a right to complain if you are not happy with the job your solicitor/adviser is doing for you. However do remember that just because a solicitor/adviser doesn't tell you what you want to hear that doesn't necessarily mean they are bad at their job.

Changing your solicitor/adviser is not something you should do lightly but if you are getting bad advice you may have to. If you are getting legal aid you will only be able to change your solicitor/adviser if there is a good reason to do so. If you want to change, then the earlier in your case you change the better. You can't have two solicitors/advisers at once.

Make sure a new solicitor/adviser will take your case on before you leave your old one. It can be very difficult to find a new solicitor/adviser because there aren't enough of them willing to take on cases from other solicitors/advisers. This makes it all the more important that you find a good one at the very beginning.

If you can't find a solicitor/adviser near you, you may have to travel. A solicitor located a long way from your home will need to be satisfied that there is no local solicitor who can help you before they can take on your case under legal aid. You should keep a record of your attempts to find a local solicitor. If you are eligible for legal aid, you may be able to get help with transport costs. Discuss this with your new solicitor/adviser before you go to see them.

How to complain

Who you can complain about

If you think your solicitor/adviser has treated you badly or given you poor advice you can complain using their complaints procedure or you can complain to the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). It is safe for you to do this; the OISC will not pass your personal details onto the Home Office even if, for example, you are in the UK illegally.

You can complain about any adviser or solicitor - even if you didn't find them through the OISC. The OISC work to make sure that all advisers give good advice, and take all complaints seriously. If your complaint is about a solicitor, the OISC will refer your complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to investigate.

What you can complain about

You can complain about any problem you have had with the immigration advice given by your solicitor/adviser, including:

  • poor advice
  • poor service, for example, not explaining what they're doing
  • not finding out about your past experiences in full
  • making false claims of success
  • charging unreasonable amounts and/or charging for work not done
  • asking you to make false or misleading statements
  • missing deadlines
  • failing to appear in court

If you need an interpreter to help make your complaint the OISC can arrange one for you.

What the OISC will do with your complaint

The OISC will look at your complaint and decide what action needs to be taken. If your adviser is acting against the law or giving poor advice they might be able to stop them working.

The OISC can't help speed up your application or deal with complaints about the Home Office.

You can complain using the form which is available in 25 languages from the OISC's website (see the link to the right - 'Complaints') or by calling 0845 000 0046.

November 2011

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