Barristers must notify clients in writing at the time of engagement or if not practicable at the next appropriate opportunity of:
- their right to make a complaint, how and to whom this can be done, including their right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman at the conclusion of the complaints process, the time-frame for doing so and the full details of how to contact the Legal Ombudsman;
- that the lay client may complain directly to Chambers without going through their solicitors; and
- of the name and web address of an approved alternative dispute resolution (ADR) body which can deal with any complaint in the event that: the barrister is unable to resolve the complaint through the complaints process, and both the barrister and the client agree to use the scheme.
On receipt of instructions, those instructing will be forwarded a letter and a Client Information Sheet which explains that The Bar Standards Board requires Chambers to secure an unequivocal agreement from our professional client, that they will pass our Client Information Sheet to the lay client on our behalf. We ask those instructing to confirm that the Client Information Sheet has been passed on to the lay client. If you require a copy of the Client Information Sheet please contact a member of the Practice Management Team.
A monthly review is undertaken and reported to each Chambers Meeting.
The Legal Ombudsman and accessing the decision data
Clients can complain to the Legal Ombudsman if they are unhappy with the final response to a complaint; or if their complaint has not been dealt with within eight weeks. Further details can be found in our Complaints Procedure below.
Clients who have a right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman are individuals and, broadly speaking, small businesses and charities.The full list of who has a right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman is available on their website here
The Legal Ombudsman publishes its decision data on its website and this information shows which providers received an ombudsman’s decision in the previous 12 months. In each case, the data shows whether the Legal Ombudsman required the provider to give the consumer a remedy. The decision data can be accessed here
The aim of chambers is to give clients a good service at all times. However if you have a complaint you are invited to let us know as soon as possible. We aim to deal with all complaints comprehensively and swiftly.
If you require a copy of this procedure is an alternative format please contact Annmarie Nightingale, Head of Practice Management on email@example.com or by telephone on 0161 817 6377.
Complaints Made by Telephone
You may wish to make a complaint in writing and, if so, please follow the procedure under the heading Complaints Made in Writing below. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone about your complaint then please telephone Annmarie Nightingale, Head of Practice Management on 0161 817 6377. If your complaint is about the Head of Practice Management then please put your complaint in writing to the Head of Chambers, Mark George QC at the address below.
The Head of Practice Management will make a note of the details of your complaint including your name and contact details; the details of your complaint and how you would like your complaint to be resolved and will then discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them.
If the matter is resolved the Head of Practice Management 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
We are happy to accept a complaint via hard copy letter but if you have access to the internet please send your letter of complaint to us by e-mail.
Please give the following details:
- Your name and address
- The date of the complaint
- Which Barrister or staff member your complaint concerns
- The detail of your complaint; and
- How you would like your complaint resolved.
Please address your letter to either the Head of Practice Management or Head of Chambers, Mark George QC. We will where possible, acknowledge receipt of your complaint within two days and every effort will be made to provide you with a substantive response to your complaint within 14 days, but where this is not possible an interim letter will be sent, explaining what is happening and advising you when you are likely to receive a final reply. The substantive reply will set out:
- The nature and scope of the investigation
- The conclusion on each complaint and the basis for the conclusion; and
- If found you are justified in your complaint, 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 will be to the Head of Chambers/ Head of Practice 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 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.
Alternative complaints bodies upon conclusion of the first tier process
We hope you will use our procedure. If you are unhappy with the outcome Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) bodies (such as Small Claims Mediation www.small-claims-mediation.co.uk/) exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services, should both parties agree to use such a scheme. Neither the barrister nor the client is required to use ADR.
You may also take up your complaint with the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for service complaints about lawyers. The Legal Ombudsman has time limits within which a complaint can be raised with them. The time limits are:
- The act or omission, or when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint, must have been after 5 October 2010; and
- 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.
We will have regard to the time-frames of the Legal Ombudsman when deciding whether we are able to investigate your complaint and 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.
You can contact the Legal Ombudsman by post, telephone or e-mail:
PO Box 6806
Tel: 0300 555 0333
See also www.legalombudsman.org.uk
You should be aware that the time limits for contacting an ADR approved body will likely be different to the time limits for contacting the Legal Ombudsman.
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.
If you require any of the above information in an alternative format, please contact a member of the Practice Management Team