Complaints

1.    We aim 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.

2.    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:

i.    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

ii.    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).

3.    Chambers must have regard to that time frame when deciding whether we 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.

4.    The Ombudsman will also only deal with complaints from consumers. This means that only complaints from barristers’ clients are within their jurisdiction. Non-clients who are not satisfied with the outcome of the Chambers' investigation should contact the Bar Standards Board (BSB) 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 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

6.    You may wish to make a complaint in writing (either by post or by email) and, if so, please follow the procedure in paragraph 8 below. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone about your complaint, then please telephone Chambers and ask to speak to the individual nominated under the chambers complaints procedure to deal with complaints, the Head of Chambers – Chris Henley QC. If the complaint is about the Head of Chambers, please speak to the Chambers Administrator – Orla O’Sullivan, who shall direct your complaint appropriately. The person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like to have 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.

7.    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.

Complaints made in writing

8.    Please give the following details:

i.    Your name and address;

ii.    Which member(s) of Chambers or member(s) of staff you are complaining about;

iii.    The detail of the complaint; and

iv.    What you would like done about it.

9.    Please address your letter to the Head of Chambers – Chris Henley QC. We will, where possible, acknowledge receipt of your complaint within two days and provide you with details of how your complaint will be dealt with.

10.    Chambers has a panel headed by the 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 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.

11.    The person appointed to investigate will write to you as soon as possible to let you know they have been appointed and that they will reply to your complaint within 14 days. If they find later that they are not going to be able to reply within 14 days they will set a new date for their reply and inform you. Their reply will set out:

i.    The nature and scope of their investigation;

ii.    Their conclusion on each complaint and the basis for their conclusion; and

iii.    If they find that you are justified in your complaint, their proposals for resolving the complaint.

Confidentiality

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. Any information you provide to us in relation to your complaint will be held and dealt with in accordance with our Data Protection and Privacy policy which can be found here. Disclosure of your complaint and any information you provide will be to the Head 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 BSB is entitled to inspect the documents and seek information about the complaint when discharging its monitoring functions.

Keeping records

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 management committee inspects an anonymised records regularly with a view to improving services.

Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman/alternative dispute resolution

14.    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, 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 time frame for referral of complaints to the Ombudsman as set out at paragraph 2 above. Those clients who are able to complain to the Legal Ombudsman are as follows:

i.    Individuals;

ii.    Businesses or enterprises that are micro-enterprises within the meaning of Article 1 and Article 2(1) and (3) of the Annex

to Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC (broadly businesses or enterprises with fewer than 10 employees and turnover or assets not exceeding €2 million);

iii.    Charities with an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million;

iv.    Clubs, associations or organisations, the affairs of which are managed by its members or a committee of its members, with an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million;

v.    Trustees of trusts with an asset value of less than £1 million; and Personal representatives or beneficiaries of the estates of persons who, before they died, had not referred the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.

15.    You can write to the Legal Ombudsman at:

Legal Ombudsman 
PO Box 6806, 
Wolverhampton 
WV1 9WJ
Telephone number: 0300 555 0333
Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk 

16.    More information about the Legal Ombudsman is available on their website: http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/ 

17.    If you are unhappy with the outcome of the investigation, alternative complaints bodies (such as ProMediate [https://www.promediate.co.uk/] and the Small Claims Mediation Service) 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 a mediation service, please contact us to discuss this. Please also note that mediation services may impose time limits for contacting the mediation service, 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).

18.    If you are not the barrister's client and are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation then please contact the Bar Standards Board at:

Bar Standards Board Contact and Assessment Team 
289-293 High Holborn 
London 
WC1V 7JZ
Telephone number: 0207 6111 444 
Website: www.barstandardsboard.org.uk 

Head of Chambers:             Chris Henley QC
Last Reviewed: September 2020