- We hope that you will be satisfied with the service that we provide. However, if there are issues or problems which cause you concern you can raise these informally, if you can, with the barrister you are instructing. If you do not feel able to raise any issues you are having directly with the barrister you can have an informal discussion with the clerk or Practice Manager. Often issues can be resolved in this way.
- If, however, you have an issue which cannot be resolved through discussion then you may wish to make a formal complaint. The Complaints Procedure is set out below.
- Our aim is to provide you with a good service at all times. However, if you have a complaint, you are invited to let us know as soon as possible. It is not necessary to involve solicitors in order to make your complaint, but you are free to do so should you wish.
- Please note that the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for service complaints about lawyers, has time limits in which a complaint must be raised with them. The time limits are:
- The complainant must refer the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman no later than six years from the act/omission, or three years from when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.
- The complainant must also refer the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of the complaint receiving a final response from their lawyer, if that response complies with the requirements in rule 4.4 of the Scheme Rules (which requires the response to include prominently an explanation that the Legal Ombudsman was available if the complainant remained dissatisfied, and the provision of full contact details for the Ombudsman and a warning that the complaint must be referred to them within six months).
- Chambers must have regard to that timeframe when deciding whether they are able to investigate your complaint. Chambers will not therefore usually deal with complaints that fall outside of the Legal Ombudsman’s time limits. The Ombudsman can extend the time limit in exceptional circumstances.
- The Ombudsman will also only deal with complaints from consumers. This means that only complaints from the barrister’s client are within their jurisdiction. Non-clients who are not satisfied with the outcome of the Chambers’ investigation should contact the BSB rather than the Legal Ombudsman.
- It should be noted that it may not always be possible to investigate a complaint brought by a non-client. This is because the ability of chambers to satisfactorily investigate and resolve such matters is limited and complaints of this nature are often better suited to the disciplinary processes maintained by the BSB. Therefore, chambers will make an initial assessment of the complaint and if they feel that the issues raised cannot be satisfactorily resolved through the chambers complaints process they will refer you to the BSB.
Complaints made by telephone
- You may wish to make a complaint in writing: if so, please follow the procedure in paragraphs 11 to 14 below. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone about your complaint then please call the Practice Manager.
- The Practice Manager will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. She will discuss your concerns with you, and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved we will record the outcome, check that you are satisfied with the outcome and record that you are satisfied. You may also wish to record the outcome of the telephone discussion in writing.
- If your complaint is not resolved on the telephone you will be invited to write to us about it within the next 14 days so it can be investigated formally.
Complaints made in writing
- Please write to the Standards Committee and give the following details:
- Your name and address;
- Which member(s) of Chambers you are complaining about;
- The detail of the complaint; and
- What you would like done about it.
- Please address your letter to:
5 Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1LG
- We will, where possible, acknowledge receipt of your complaint within five days and provide you with details of how your complaint will be dealt with.
- Our Standards Committee has a panel made up of experienced members of chambers who will consider any written complaint. Within 14 days of your letter being received the head of the panel (or another member of Chambers, in his absence) will appoint a member of the panel to investigate it. If your complaint is against the head of the panel, the next most senior member of the panel will investigate it. In any case, the person appointed will be someone other than the person you are complaining about.
- The person appointed to investigate will write to you as soon as possible to let you know that he has been appointed and that he will reply to your complaint within 14 days. If he finds later that he is not going to be able to reply within 14 days, he will set a new date for his reply and inform you. His reply will set out:
- The nature and scope of his investigation;
- His conclusion as to each complaint and the basis for his conclusion; and
- If he finds that you are justified in your complaint, his proposals for resolving the complaint.
- All conversations and documents relating to the complaint will be treated as confidential and will be disclosed only to the extent that is necessary. Disclosure may be to the Head of Chambers, members of our Management Committee and/or anyone involved in the complaint and its investigation. Such people will include the barrister or staff member whom you have complained about, the head or relevant senior member of the panel and the person who investigates the complaint. The Bar Standards Board is entitled to inspect the documents and seek information about the complaint when discharging its auditing and monitoring functions.
- As part of our commitment to client care, we make a written record of any complaint and retain all documents and correspondence generated by the complaint for a period of six years. Our Management Committee will also regularly inspect anonymised records of any complaints received, with a view to improving the quality of the services that we offer our clients.
Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman/Alternative Dispute Resolution
- If you are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation, you may take up your complaint with the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for complaints about lawyers, at the conclusion of our consideration of your complaint. The Ombudsman is not able to consider your complaint until it has first been investigated by Chambers. Please note the Legal Ombudsman time limits outlined above. You can write to the Legal Ombudsman at:
PO Box 6806
Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ
Tel: 0300 555 0333
- The Legal Ombudsman’s website lists those barristers who have been the subject of a decision within the last twelve months, and the remedies that those barristers were required to provide to the client. That information can be found here.
- If you are unhappy with the outcome of the investigation, alternative complaints bodies (such as ProMediate) also exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services, should you and the barrister both wish to use such a scheme. If you wish to use this route, please contact us to discuss this. Please also note that: (1) the time limit for contacting ProMediate is three months, and (2) if mediation is used, neither you nor the barrister is required to accept the proposed resolution. If mediation does not resolve the complaint, you may still make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman (provided you fall within their jurisdiction and you do so within the time limit).
- The Bar Standards Board investigates complaints of professional misconduct or professional disciplinary issues. You can email the Bar Standards Board or write to them at:
Bar Standards Board
289-293 High Holborn
London WC1V 7HZ
DX: 240 LDE
Tel: 020 7611 1444