Our Code of Conduct was developed when MASS was formed in 1991 and was put in place to ensure that all our members give the same high standard of service to you, their client.
We expect our membership to maintain the highest standards when representing you.
1.0 THE OBJECTIVES OF MASS ARE:
1.1 To enhance the expertise, knowledge and efficiency of its Members in the handling of road accident compensation claims;
1.2 To keep under review substantive law, court procedure and all other matters affecting the awards of compensation in road traffic claims;
1.3 To support test cases for the benefit of the motorist;
1.4 To promote an efficient and expert service to persons pursuing claims arising from motor accidents.
1.5 To seek actively to identify fraud and help stop fraudulent or exaggerated claims
2.0 SERVICE STANDARDS
2.1 MASS believes in setting the highest standards of service, in the best interests of the accident victim, the generality of which are set out in this Code of Conduct and include:
3.0 MASS MEMBERS AGREE TO:
3.1 Adhere to the MASS Articles of Association and Code of Conduct;
3.2 Nominate a representative to oversee the implementation and observance of the MASS Code of Conduct;
3.3 Provide the MASS Code of Conduct to those who request it
3.4 Display within the practice the MASS Membership Certificate
3.5 Ensure the continued education and training of all staff involved in the handling of road traffic accident claims.
4.0 COLLECTIVE MARK
4.1 Members of the Society shall be entitled to use the collective mark of the Society as set out in paragraph 4.0 of this Code of Conduct (“the Collective Mark”) or such other logo adopted by the Society from time to time. Use of the Collective Mark or such other logo other than on stationery must have the prior written consent of the Management Committee who has absolute discretion.
4.2 It is a condition of the use of the Collective Mark that the Collective Mark shall not be used in any printed or electronic advertisements, or publicity matter (including emails and websites) directed primarily to the market in the United Kingdom and in the Isle of Man or in retail point of sale display cards distributed by the registered proprietor for use within the United Kingdom and in the Isle of Man, without indicating that it is a collective mark.
5.0 SERVICE STANDARDS FOR MASS MEMBERS TO ADHERE TO WHEN DEALING WITH RTA CLIENTS
5.1 If so requested to provide a free initial consultation where it appears that a potential claimant may have a viable claim;
5.2 To deal with correspondence and reply as soon as practicable or at least within five working days save in exceptional circumstances;
5.3 To return telephone calls if unavailable as soon as practicable, or within one working day save in exceptional circumstances;
5.4 To update the client on the progress of his or her claim at least once a month unless otherwise agreed;
5.5 To answer all matters raised and to advise in detail where required or, if appropriate, request that the client attends an appointment;
5.6 To refer any dispute between the client and the Member to the nominated representative or other appropriate person;
5.7 To be polite, courteous and punctual;
5.8 To report in writing on all offers made and to explain and advise in detail on such offers;
5.9 To advise clients when any expert is instructed;
5.10 If the client is unable for medical reasons to attend at the office, to offer to see the client at home or arrange an agent to do so;
5.11 To provide clients with copies of all medical reports, draft Particulars of Claim, Schedule of Losses and experts’ reports where appropriate and to seek the client’s prior approval before using any of the documents/reports.
6.0 SERVICE STANDARDS FOR MASS MEMBERS TO ADHERE TO WHEN DEALING WITH OTHER PARTIES
6.1 To answer correspondence as soon as practicable, or within five working days save in exceptional circumstances;
6.2 To return telephone calls, if unavailable, as soon as practicable, or within one working day save in exceptional circumstances;
6.3 To be polite and courteous;
6.4 To refer any dispute concerning the Code of Conduct to the nominated representative;
6.5 To conduct all negotiations on a without prejudice basis and not to reach any binding agreement without the client’s consent.
7.0 INSURANCE BROKERS
7.1 The Code of Conduct with clients should also apply in relation to brokers in dealing with correspondence and communications.
8.1 The reception area should be open, comfortable, clean, with seating available, appropriate signs and notices and up to date reading material. Receptionists should be friendly and smartly dressed. Clients who arrive on time for appointments should, wherever possible, be seen promptly. A list of appointments should be given to the receptionist at the beginning of each day. All clients should be made to feel welcome on arrival;
8.2 Ensure staff are adequately trained regarding discussing confidential / personal details be it in person or on the telephone, in the reception area.
8.3 Toilets should be available and there should be facilities for the disabled, including ramps to gain access to the premises, wherever possible;
8.4 To provide advice as to convenient parking, wherever possible;
8.5 To provide a map and location of premises, if requested;
8.6 For all personal attendances to take place in a designated interview room without interruption.
9.0 COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE
9.1 The procedure below will form the basis of the MASS Complaints Procedure and details the manner and system by which a complaint against a Member of the Society will be dealt (and for the avoidance of doubt a complaint against a partner or member of staff shall be considered to be a complaint against the firm). The Complaints Procedure may deal with the complaints arising from a Member firm’s alleged infringement or failure to comply with the MASS Code of Conduct or Articles of Association. The Management Committee shall in their absolute discretion have the power to vary this procedure in circumstances where they deem such variation to be necessary in the interests of justice or of the Society.
9.2 Upon receipt of a complaint the MASS Central Office will detail the date of receipt, the Member firm against which the complaint is made and the matter of complaint.
i) Within five working days of receipt of the complaint, the MASS Central Office will advise the complainant that the MASS Complaints Procedure may only be invoked if the matter has been pursued, wherever applicable, via the Member firm’s own internal complaints procedures and has failed to be resolved. The complainant will be advised of the contact name at the Member firm concerned and a copy of the MASS Code of Conduct and/or the Articles of Association, will be forwarded.
ii) If the matter is not resolved by the Member firm’s internal complaints procedure, where that is applicable, the Complainant will be invited to submit a formal complaint against the Member firm, detailing the manner of complaint and the respective infringement of the MASS Code of Conduct or Articles of Association. The Complainant will set out details of the complaint in writing and provide copies of all supporting documents / other evidence upon which they seek to rely, wherever possible, in respect of each allegation raised. MASS will then send the complaint to the respective Member firm within 10 working days of receiving the complaint in writing. The response from the Member firm should be received within a further 15 working days from the date of receipt of the complaint from the MASS Central Office and should contain copies of all supporting documents / other evidence upon which they seek to rely, wherever possible, in respect of each allegation raised.
9.3 The time limits set out in Clause 9.2(b) may be extended at the absolute discretion of MASS central office by up to 10 working days. In making a decision to extend the time limits provided in Clause 9.2(b) MASS central office will have regard to the complexity of the complaint.
9.4 A copy of the response will be forwarded directly to the complainant by MASS central office within 10 working days of receiving the response from the Member firm and the complainant will be invited to confirm either of the following within 10 working days that:
i) he/she is satisfied with the response and wishes to take no further action, or;
ii) he/she remains dissatisfied with the response and wishes the matter to be submitted to the Complaints Tribunal.
9.5 If 9.4 (ii) applies the Member firm’s submission together with details of the complaint will be forwarded to a member of the Complaints Tribunal. Complaints will be distributed to members of the Committee on a rotation basis. The Complaints Tribunal shall consist of the Chairman and / or Vice-Chairman and two members of the Management Committee who shall be appointed from time to time. No member of the Complaints Tribunal shall be eligible to sit as members of the Tribunal in respect of complaints against their firms or when the complaint has arisen against a firm within their respective region. The member dealing with the complaint will submit his/her recommendation to the Tribunal within 10 working days. The Tribunal will forward their final majority decision to MASS central office within a further 5 working days along with a recommendation setting out what action should be taken against the Member firm. In the event that there is deadlock, the Chairman or, if he is not available, the Vice Chairman will have the casting vote.
9.6 If the complaint is upheld by the Complaints Tribunal, MASS central office will advise the complainant, and Member firm of the finding and the appropriate penalty, within 5 working days of notification by the Complaints Tribunal.
9.7 The Complaints Tribunal shall have the power to impose the following penalties against a Member firm:
i) A first offence by the Member firm will incur a fine not exceeding £500;
ii) The second offence a sum not exceeding £1000;
iii) The third will result in expulsion from the Society.
iv) In the event of a finding of gross misconduct, the Complaints Tribunal shall recommend to the Management Committee that the Member firm be expelled.
9.8 The fine will be paid to the Society’s nominated Annual Charity.
9.9 If the Complaints Tribunal makes a recommendation to the Management Committee to expel a Member firm in accordance with Clause 9.7(iv), the complainant and the Member firm will be notified by MASS central office of the date of the next Management Committee meeting
9.10 The members of the Complaints Tribunal will set out details of the complaint and their findings to the members of the Management Committee who shall then vote on whether the Member firm should be expelled. The members of the Complaints Tribunal shall be entitled to vote. A majority decision will prevail. In the event that there is deadlock, the Chairman of the meeting shall have the casting vote.
9.11 If the complaint is dismissed, the Complaints Tribunal will advise the complainant and the Member firm of such, providing the grounds for dismissal and shall confirm that if the complainant wishes to pursue the complaint, independent legal advice should, where appropriate, be sought.
9.12 In the event that the Member firm is found to be in breach of this Code, there shall be a right of appeal. The Member firm shall confirm to MASS central office within 5 working days of notification of the decision if they wish to lodge an appeal.
9.12.1 In the event that the Member firm wishes to appeal, a detailed written response to the decision to impose a penalty / expel (with supporting evidence) shall be lodged at MASS central office within 10 working days of notification of the original decision.
9.12.2 A copy of the Member firms response will be sent to the complainant within 5 working days of receipt of the response at MASS central office. The complainant shall provide his / her response or further submissions to MASS central office within a further 10 working days.
9.12.3 MASS central office shall notify the Member firm and the complainant that a final decision will be made at the next Management Committee meeting and the date of that meeting.
9.12.4 The Management Committee shall consider the further responses from the Member firm and the complainant and shall determine whether the original penalty / decision to expel shall stand or whether other appropriate action should be taken. The Management Committee will vote. The members of the Complaints Tribunal shall be entitled to vote. A majority decision will prevail. In the event that there is deadlock, the Chairman or Vice Chairman shall have the casting vote.
9.12.5 The final decision will be conveyed to the Member firm and the complainant within 5 working days of the final decision.
9.12.6 The final decision will also be notified to the membership.
10.0 OTHER COMPLAINTS
10.1 Where allegations of negligence against a Member or Member firm are being made then the complainant will be advised to seek advice from other solicitors. Where the complaint is about professional conduct or service or similar, then details of the Legal Ombudsman will be given to the complainant.
10.2 MASS will accordingly be involved in considering any complaints arising from breach of the Code of Conduct, or the Articles of Association but not otherwise, and in the case of complaints by clients of the Member or Member firm, only when the client has made a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman and the Legal Ombudsman has concluded his investigations into the complaint and made a final decision.