The procedure set out below is applicable to professional clients, lay clients and other members of the public. Please note that Chambers will only consider complaints from clients that are raised within six years of the act or omission complained of or within three years of the time a complainant could reasonably be aware of the act or omission complained of (if it arose more than six years ago). Chambers will only consider complaints from non-clients that are raised within 12 months of the problem arising or of the time a complainant could reasonably be aware of it arising.
You may wish to make a complaint by telephone or in writing.
Complaints made by telephone
If you prefer to speak to us about your complaint please telephone:-
- The barrister concerned or our senior clerk, Clark Chessis (if the complaint is about a barrister)
- Clark Chessis (if the complaint is about a member of staff)
- John Ross QC or Simon Readhead QC (if the complaint is about a senior member of staff)
The person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint. Depending on the nature of your complaint you may be asked to put it in writing. If it is appropriate to handle your complaint by telephone, the person you contact will make a note of what you would like to be done about your complaint. He/she will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved, he/she will record the outcome, ensure that you are satisfied with the outcome and record this in writing. You may also wish to record the outcome of this process 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 that it can be investigated formally.
Complaints made in writing
If you would prefer to make your complaint in writing, or are asked to do so, please provide the following details:
- your name and address,
- which member(s) of Chambers or staff member you are complaining about, the detail of your complaint and what you would like to be done about it.
Your complaint should be addressed to the same individual as set out above for telephone complaints. Please address your letter to:
[name of preferred recipient]
1 Chancery Lane
We will, where possible, acknowledge receipt of your complaint in writing within two days and provide you with details of how your complaint will be dealt with.
Our Chambers has a panel headed by our Head of Chambers and made up of experienced members of Chambers and a senior member of staff which considers any written complaint. Within 14 days of your letter being received the head of the panel or his deputy in his absence will appoint a member of the panel to investigate the complaint. 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 the investigation;
- his conclusion on each complaint and the basis for this;
- and (if he/ she finds your complaint to be justified) proposals for resolving the complaint including any action which he/she proposes to take.
All steps taken by Chambers to handle your complaint will be recorded in Chambers’ electronic complaints log.
All conversations and documents relating to the complaint will be treated as confidential and will be disclosed only to the extent that it is necessary. Disclosure will be to the Head of Chambers, members of our Executive Committee and to anyone involved in the complaint and its investigation. Such people will include the barrister or member of staff about whom you have complained 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.
Complainants’ unreasonable behaviour
Chambers retains the right to cease all communications with any vexatious or frivolous complainants and with any complainant who threatens members or employees of Chambers or who acts abusively during the course of the complaints process.
Complaints to the Bar Standards Board and Legal Ombudsman
We hope that you will use our procedure. Complainants should however be aware that Chambers is unable to impose disciplinary sanctions on members of Chambers. Therefore, having used the procedure if you are not satisfied with the outcome or the forms of redress which may be offered to you once your complaint has been considered (such as an apology or a return of fees), you may wish to direct your complaint to the Bar Standards Board or the Legal Ombudsman.
The Legal Ombudsman will deal with complaints from clients about the services provided by barristers or their staff. The Legal Ombudsman acts as a single point of contact for all such complaints and will ensure that any complaints relating to professional misconduct are referred to the Bar Standards Board. The Legal Ombudsman cannot consider a complaint unless it has first been investigated by Chambers. The complaint must be made to the Ombudsman within 6 years of the problem arising or within 3 years of you becoming aware of the problem (if it arose before 6 October 2010 or was more than 6 years ago). Should you wish to refer the complaint to the Ombudsman, you must also do so within 6 months from the date of the determination of Chambers’ internal investigation of the complaint. The Ombudsman has discretion to extend time limits in exceptional circumstances.
The Bar Standards Board will deal with complaints about professional misconduct and disciplinary matters. Should you choose to make a complaint to the Bar Standards Board, the complaint may be referred back to Chambers to be handled in accordance with our complaints procedure. In the event your complaint is referred to Chambers, we will ensure that the outcome of our consideration of the complaint is reported back to the Bar Standards Board and that regular updates are provided if it takes longer than six weeks to consider the complaint.
The contact details for the Bar Standards Board and Legal Ombudsman are:
Bar Standards Board
289-293 High Holborn
DX: 240 LDE
T: 020 7611 1444
F: 020 7831 9217
See also: www.barstandardsboard.org.uk
PO Box 6806
T: 0300 555 0333
See also: www.legalombudsman.org.uk