Our Respectful Contact Policy means that we will not tolerate Unreasonable Client Conduct
Unreasonable Client Conduct
Most of our clients act reasonably and responsibly in their interactions with us, even when they are in difficult situations or are experiencing high levels of stress, frustration or anger. However, a very small number of clients behave in ways that are inappropriate and unacceptable – despite our best efforts to help them. They can be aggressive or verbally abusive towards our staff. They can threaten or inflict harm, engage in unnecessary and excessive communications with us, make inappropriate demands on our time and our resources and refuse to accept our advice and recommendations in relation to their matter.
When clients behave in these ways, we may have no choice but to consider their conduct to be ‘unreasonable’. Nothing in this Policy is intended to reduce or restrict your entitlement to speak with us and obtain updates / advice regarding your matter but simply to make clear what behaviours, for serious reasons, simply cannot be tolerated. If you have any questions regarding this Policy, please feel free to contact Amy Burton, Everyday Justice's Managing Lawyer, on 02 8035 7810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unreasonable client conduct is any behaviour by a current or former client which, because of its nature raises health, safety, resource or equity issues for our staff, other clients or the client themselves, whether intended or not.
Unreasonable client conduct can be divided into four categories of conduct:
Unreasonable lack of cooperation
Unreasonable persistence is continued, incessant, unwarranted and unrelenting conduct by a client that has a disproportionate and unreasonable impact on our staff. Some examples of unreasonably persistent behaviour include:
An unwillingness or inability to accept reasonable and logical explanations including advice provided or regarding decisions and instructions that have been comprehensively considered and dealt with in accordance with the client’s prior instructions.
Incessant, unwarranted or unrelenting communication with our staff with phone calls, visits, letters, emails (including cc’d correspondence) or text messages after repeatedly being asked not to do so.
Unreasonable demands are demands made by a client that have a disproportionate and unreasonable impact on our staff, services, time and/or resources. Some examples of unreasonable demands include:
Emotional blackmail and manipulation with the intention to guilt trip, intimidate, harass, shame, seduce or portray themselves as being victimised – when this is not the case.
Insisting on, or providing instructions to pursue outcomes that are not possible or appropriate in the circumstances having regard to the matter – e.g. for someone to be sacked or prosecuted, an apology and/or compensation when there is no reasonable basis for expecting this.
Demanding services that are of a nature or scale or within a timeframe that we cannot provide or are not warranted when this has been explained to them.
Unreasonable lack of cooperation
Unreasonable lack of cooperation is an unwillingness and/or inability by a client to cooperate with our staff, that results in a disproportionate and unreasonable use of our services, time and/or resources. Some examples of unreasonable lack of cooperation include:
Refusing to follow or accept assistance or advice without a clear or justifiable reason or persisting with pursuing outcomes which are not attainable.
Arguing frequently and/or with extreme intensity that a particular outcome is the correct one in the face of valid contrary advice and explanations otherwise.
Displaying unhelpful behaviour – such as refusing to action requests for information, documents or instructions, withholding timely information or instructions, acting dishonestly or misquoting others.
Unreasonable behaviour is conduct that is deemed by us to be unreasonable in all circumstances – regardless of how stressed, angry or frustrated a client is – because it unreasonably compromises the health, safety and security of our staff, other clients or the client themselves. Some examples of unreasonable behaviours include:
False allegations against staff or misquoting what has occurred during the course of a matter and instructions provided.
Acts of aggression, verbal abuse or statements (verbal or in writing) that are offensive, impolite, rude, derogatory, defamatory or discriminatory on the grounds of race, religion, sexuality or gender.
Harassment, intimidation or physical violence, or threats of such.
Rude, irrational, impolite, derogatory, confronting and threatening correspondence.
Threats of harm to self or third parties of any kind.
Stalking (in person, online or via email).
Persistent questioning about a staff member’s personal life, relationship status, religious or cultural background or other harassing or intimidating behaviour.
Contacting staff outside of work, including via social media platforms, without an express invitation to do so.
Making illegal, rude, offensive, impolite, threatening or defamatory statements about staff on social media or other websites.
Audio or video recording interviews or phone calls without prior consent of us.
We have a zero tolerance policy towards any harm, abuse or threats directed towards our staff. Any conduct of this kind will be dealt with under this policy, together with applicable work, health and safety policies, and in accordance with our duty of care and work health and safety responsibilities.