To complain or claim?

17 October, 2014
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

A question which often arises when a professional has let someone down is whether to complain following the complaints procedure, perhaps referring this to an ombudsman or professional body where applicable; or bring a claim.

Making a complaint does not necessarily prevent a claim being made and vice versa. 

However, it is important to look at the complaints procedure, including the remit of an ombudsman or professional body and power to make an award, before deciding how to proceed.  Does the procedure cover your particular situation?  Negligence might not be considered, as a complaints procedure may be limited to service issues.  There may also be a limit to the compensatory amount which is insufficient.  Bear in mind that strict time-limits will apply with either route.

Furthermore, if a complaint is made and an award is accepted, then it might not be possible to bring court proceedings to claim further compensation if the substance of the complaint is the same as the claim.  The case of Clark v In Focus Asset Management [2014] EWCA Civ [118] resulted in a claim being struck out as the claimant could not recover more than the amount previously awarded by the Financial Ombudsman Service.