Chambers’ Complaints Procedure Leaflet
1. Our aim is to give you 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 or other instructing agent in order to make your complaint but you are free to do so should you wish. Our complaints procedure may be used by clients, both lay and professional, or other relevant third parties and includes disciplinary matters relating to tender arrangements and framework agreements.
2. Please note that the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for service complaints about lawyers, has a six year time limit from the date of the act or omission about which you are complaining or three years from when the complainant should have reasonably known there were grounds for complaint, within which to make your complaint. Chambers must therefore have regard to that timeframe when deciding whether they are able to investigate your complaint. Chambers will not deal with complaints that fall outside of the six year time limit.
Complaints made by Telephone
3. You may wish to make a complaint in writing and, if so, please follow the procedure in paragraphs 4 and 5 below. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone about your complaint then please telephone the individual nominated under the Chambers’ Complaints Procedure to deal with complaints - Paul Coveney, the Senior Clerk. If the complaint is about the Senior Clerk please telephone the Head of Chambers - Andrew Tait QC - or other member of Chambers appointed by the Head of Chambers. The person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. He will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved he 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.
4. 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
5. 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 Paul Coveney, Francis Taylor Building, Temple, London EC4Y 7BY. 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.
6. Our Chambers has a panel headed by Andrew Tait QC 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 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.
7. The person appointed to investigate will write to you as soon as possible to let you know that 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:
- The nature and scope of its investigation;
- Their conclusion on each complaint and the basis for its conclusion; and
- If they find that you are justified in your complaint, their proposals for resolving the complaint.
8. 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 and to anyone involved in the complaint and its investigation. Such people will include the barrister or member of 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.
9. 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 record regularly with a view to improving services.
Misconduct and Professional Negligence
10. If your complaint, or elements of your complaint, relates to professional misconduct or professional negligence then it may be that it is not appropriate for Chambers to resolve or provide redress for your complaint or those particular aspects of it. We will inform you if we consider that your complaint, or elements of it, is not appropriate for our procedure.
Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman
11. 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. If a final response has been sent to you, you must take up the complaint with the Ombudsman within 6 months of the date of the final Chambers' response. You may also take up a complaint with the Ombudsman if the complaint has not been resolved to your satisfaction within eight weeks of being made to the authorised person or if it is not appropriate for Chambers to investigate it by reason of paragraph 10.
Please note that the Ombudsman is not able to consider your complaint until it has first been investigated by Chambers, or unless it has been deemed inappropriate for such an investigation to take place by reason of paragraph 10.
Please note that the Legal Ombudsman’s time limit for accepting complaints is six years from the date of the act or omission, or three years from when the complainant should have reasonably known there were grounds for complaint. You can write to them at:
ADR approved bodies
In the event that it does not prove possible to settle your complaint using our formal complaints procedure, and all parties consent, alternative complaints bodies exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services. These include ProMediate (https://www.promediate.co.uk/) and Small Claims Mediation
Legal Ombudsman's decisions - published data on all complaints that have been resolved by an ombudsman’s final decision.
Bar Standards Board Register - online database which displays details of all barristers who are authorised to practise in England and Wales and who have a current practising certificate.