1. Our aim is to give you a good service at all times. However, if you have a complaint about the service provided by chambers, 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.
2. An example of inadequate service might be: a failure to deal with all the points upon which written advice sought or a failure to deal with paperwork in a reasonable time period. Chambers will not determine complaints which essentially involve a complaint that the client, without more, disagrees with the barrister’s legal judgment on the law or facts of the case or the barrister’s professional judgment about how a case should be presented to court. This is because to do so would require the investigator to put his legal judgment above the barrister’s and would amount to the provision of a ‘second opinion’. This approach taken by chambers, does not prevent you from pursuing the matter with the Legal Ombudsman.
3. Please note that the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for service complaints about lawyers, has the following requirements in relation to time constraints for hearing your complaint:
The problem or when you found out about it, happened after 5 October 2010; and you are referring your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within either of the following:
4. 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 Bar Standards Board rather than the Legal Ombudsman.
5. 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 Bar Standards Board. 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 Bar Standards Board.
Complaints Made by Telephone
6. You may wish to make a complaint in writing, if so, please follow the procedure below under the heading “Complaints in Writing”. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone about your complaint, and it is about a member of chambers or the clerking team, then in the first instance please telephone William Meade (Senior Clerk) or Sarah Earl (Chambers Director). If the complaint is about the Senior Clerk, then please telephone the Head of Chambers, Mark Sutton QC. A telephone complaint about a member of the Administration staff should be directed to Sarah Earl (Chambers Director). If the complaint is about the Chambers Director, please direct the complaint to the Senior Clerk (William Meade).The person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. He or she will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved he or she 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.
7. If your complaint is not resolved on the telephone you will be invited to write to us about it within 14 days of the response to the telephone complaint so the matter can be investigated formally.
Complaints made in Writing
8. Please 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 Sarah Earl (Complaints). We will, where possible, acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 5 days and provide you with details of how your complaint will be dealt with. You can send this either by post to our shown address or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Sometimes a complaint may arise from a simple misunderstanding or be capable of swift resolution. Accordingly in most cases the complaint will be referred to the individual concerned and their comments sought. Those comments will be sent to the complainant to see whether the complaint can be resolved at this juncture. If that proves impossible the following paragraphs apply.
10. Our Chambers has a panel made up of experienced members of Chambers and a senior member of staff, which will consider any unresolved written complaint against a barrister, clerk or admin staff. Within 21 days of your written complaint being received the heads of the panel will appoint a member of the panel to investigate it. If your complaint is against the heads of the panel, the Head of Chambers will investigate it. In any event, the person appointed will be someone other than the person you are complaining about.
11. The person appointed to investigate will write to you as soon as possible to let you know he has been appointed and that he will reply to your complaint within 28 days of his appointment. If he finds later that he is not going to be able to reply within 28 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 on 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.
12. 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 will be to the head of chambers, members of our management committee, Board of Management and to anyone involved in the complaint and its investigation. Such people will include the barrister member or staff who 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.
13. 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 Board of Management inspects an anonymised record regularly with a view to improving services.
Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman
14. 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 that the Legal Ombudsman has a time limit from the date of the act or omission about which you are complaining within which to make your complaint, as explained in point 3. You can write to them at:
PO Box 6806,
Telephone number: 0300 555 0333
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