Complaints mechanism

1. Definitions

Smeets Gijbels B.V., established in Rotterdam on Westersingel 84, PO Box 1629, 3000 BP Rotterdam, and having a business address in Amsterdam on Jacob Obrechtstraat 70, PO Box 78067, 1070 LP Amsterdam.

Lawyer / mediator
The lawyer and/or mediator employed by or at Smeets Gijbels B.V. to whose actions or negligence the complaint relates.

Any remark that could be reasonably regarded as expressing displeasure, communicated in writing or by e-mail by or on behalf of a client concerning the establishment and/or execution of an instruction agreement, the quality of services provided by the lawyer/mediator or a person answerable to the lawyer/mediator, and/or a remark made in writing or by e-mail expressing displeasure about an invoice amount.

The client or his/her representative expressing a complaint.

Complaints procedure
The procedure used at the office for dealing with complaints.

Complaints mechanism
This document, being the written version of the complaints procedure used at the office.

Complaints registration form
A form for internal use for carrying out the procedure laid down in the complaints mechanism.

Complaints officer
The lawyer/mediator charged with the task of dealing with a complaint, Ms. Gijbels, postal address: PO Box 1629, 3000 BP, Rotterdam.

2. Objectives

The objectives of the complaints mechanism are:

  1. To set down a procedure for dealing constructively with complaints by clients within a reasonable period of time.
  2. To set down a procedure for establishing the causes of complaints by clients.
  3. To maintain and improve existing relationships by dealing with complaints in a proper and effective manner.
  4. To train employees in responding to clients in a client-oriented manner.
  5. To improve the quality of the services provided by dealing with and analysing complaints.
3. Informing the client

The office will post the complaints mechanism on the office website. If necessary, any client making a complaint will be informed of the existence of the complaints mechanism.

4. The internal complaints procedure
  1. Whenever a client contacts the office in any way with a complaint, it will immediately be brought to the attention of the complaints officer and of the lawyer/mediator in question, and, where relevant, of the person acting under the responsibility of the lawyer/mediator in question.
  2. The person about whom a complaint has been made shall be given the opportunity by the complaints officer to respond to the complaint in writing.
  3. If the complaints officer so rules, the complainant will then be invited to a meeting, which the person or persons about whom he/she has made a complaint may attend.
  4. Within one month of receipt of the complaint, the complaints officer shall issue a reasoned written judgement to the complainant and the person or persons about whom the complaint was made about the justification of the complaint, possibly accompanied by recommendations. In the event of derogation from this period of time, the complaints officer shall inform the complainant and the person or persons about whom the complaint was made stating the reasons and the period within which a judgement about the justification of the complaint will be issued.
  5. In the event of the complainant not accepting the judgement of the complaints officer, he or she shall be entitled to place the dispute about the establishment and/or execution of the agreement, the quality of the services provided, or the invoice amount, to the competent court for settlement.
  6. Confidentiality should be maintained in all circumstances.
  7. The complainant shall not bear any of the costs incurred for the dealing of their complaint by the complaints officer.
  8. If the complaint is not resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant, the complainant shall be entitled to submit a complaint to the dean of the Netherlands Bar in the judicial district in which the lawyer/mediator against whom the complaint has been made, is employed. In the event that it concerns mediation activities, the complaint should be submitted to the board of the ‘Nederlandse vereniging Familie- en erfrecht Advocaten Scheidingsmediators’ (vFAS).
5. Registration of the complaint
  1. All complaints are registered in accordance with the complaints registration form.
  2. The complaints officer registers and describes the complaint.
  3. If the complaint has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, the lawyer/mediator concerned, or the person employed under the responsibility of the lawyer/mediator about whom the complaint was made, and the complaints officer will sign the complaints registration form.
  4. The complaints officer maintains a complaints file.
6. Analysis of complaints
  1. The complaints officer maintains an overview of all complaints received, including the subject of each complaint.
  2. The complaints officer issues periodic reports about how complaints have been dealt with.
  3. The complaints officer processes the data and produces an annual analysis.
  4. The complaints officer also makes recommendations aimed at preventing new complaints and at improving procedures.
7. Internal discussions
  1. The complaints data are discussed at the office once a year during a partners’ meeting, based on an analysis.
  2. Measures aimed at bringing about improvements are prepared and planned.
  3. The complaints officer is responsible for preparing this agenda item and for carrying out an analysis.
8. Preventive action
  1. On the basis of the annual analysis by the complaints officer, the partners may decide on what preventive measures to take in order to improve the quality of services provided.
  2. The measures to be taken will be presented together with the analysis to everyone at the office.