Our aim is to provide a good service at all times, and our feedback from clients shows we are generally successful in this. However, if you are unhappy about something we ask you to let us know as soon as possible so we have the opportunity to address your concerns. You may also make a formal complaint.
We will investigate all complaints, as set out below. It is not necessary to involve solicitors in order to make your complaint but you are free to do so should you wish.
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 Joint Heads of Chambers, members of our Management Committee 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.
As part of our commitment to client care we will make a written record of any complaint and retain all documents and correspondence generated by the complaint for a period of six years. Every year we considered all informal and formal complaints on an anonymous basis in order to identify how we might improve our service.
The terms of this Complaints Procedure apply to mediators. In the event that your complaint is about a Civil Mediation Council Registered Mediator, if you are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation you may wish to refer the matter to the Civil Mediation Council Complaints Resolution Service.
You may wish to raise a complaint by speaking to us on the telephone.
If this is an informal complaint, in the first instance please speak to our Senior Practice Managers (Steve Sheridan for civil matters or James Tidnam for family matters). or to the Chambers Director, Vincent Denham.
If this is a formal complaint please speak to our Chambers Director, Vincent Denham (unless it is about the Chambers Director in which case please see below).
The person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. They will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved they 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 so it can be investigated formally.
If you decide to put your complaint in writing please provide the following details:
We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint as soon as reasonably practicable, within three working days where possible, and provide you with details of how your complaint will be dealt with.
Our complaints handling panel is made up of experienced members of Chambers and senior members of staff from our Management Committee, headed by the Joint Heads of Chambers Tina Cook QC and Richard Furniss. It considers any written complaint. Within seven days of your letter being received, the Head of the panel, or their deputy in their 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 consider your complaint will investigate it and then respond to you within a maximum of eight weeks of receipt of your complaint. If they find they are not going to be able to reply within this time they will set a new date for their reply and inform you. The reply will set out:
You will have the opportunity to provide further information in writing if you wish, and the person against whom the complaint is made will have the opportunity to respond.
If there is the possibility that the complaint may result in a claim against the barrister, then the insurers (Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund) will be informed as soon as possible.
Complaints to our regulators
The Legal Ombudsman is the independent body for service complaints about lawyers. It has a time limit for investigating complaints of up to six years from the date of the problem happening or within three years of when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint. Chambers must have regard to these limits and will not therefore usually deal with complaints that fall outside the time limit.
The Legal Ombudsman will 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.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation, and you fall within their jurisdiction, you may take up your complaint with the Legal Ombudsman at the conclusion of our consideration of your complaint. Please note the Ombudsman is not able to consider your complaint until it has first been investigated by Chambers. Approaching the Legal Ombudsman is therefore appropriate if you are not satisfied with the final response from Chambers, or if you have not received a response from Chambers after the maximum 8 week period allowed by the Ombudsman.
You can write to them at:
Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 15870, Birmingham, B30 9EB
You must complain to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving your barrister’s final response to your complaint
You can see the Ombudsman’s decision data by following this link: http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/raising-standards/data-and-decisions/#ombudsman-decision-data
The BSB generally cannot investigate complaints against a barrister that has represented you. Rather the BSB investigates complaints where barristers may have broken the rules or acted in a way that might damage the public’s ability to trust barristers, for example by acting dishonestly. Further details are shown on their website
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.