1. Chambers seeks to make every effort to provide its clients with an excellent service. In the event of a complaint arising, Chambers have a formal procedure for the handling of grievances. All clients of Chambers, both professional and lay clients, have the right to make a complaint if it is considered appropriate.
2. All complaints received will be determined within an 8-week period from receipt.
3. Complaints should initially be made to the Senior Clerk of Chambers in writing or by telephone. In the event that the Senior Clerk is
the subject of the complaint then the complaint should be made to the Head of Chambers or a member of Chambers' Management Committee.
4. Please note that complaints will only be considered within a six- month period from the date of the event or error complained of.
5. The Head of Chambers has overall responsibility for Chambers' Complaints Procedure.
6. It is hoped that most complaints made will be satisfactorily resolved by way of telephone discussion. However, in the event that the Complainant is not satisfied, the person to whom the complaint is made (i.e. Senior Clerk, Head of Chambers or Management Committee member) will inform the Complainant that a complaints record will be opened and that an investigation into the complaint will take place.
7. The Senior Clerk will keep a record of the complaint made by completing the complaints register and opening a complaint record
The complaint record will show:
- The names of the barrister/member of staff against whom the complaint is made·
- The name of the Complainant and contact details·
- A description of the complaint and an outline of the action to be taken to resolve the issue.
- The outcome and any action taken to prevent re-occurrence The complaint record will additionally contain all correspondence relating to the complaint.
Resolution of the Complaint
8. Within 48 hours the Senior Clerk will notify the barrister or member of staff concerned and will disclose any relevant correspondence. The Senior Clerk will also write to the Complainant within 48 hours of the complaint being made to acknowledge that the complaint has not been able to be satisfactorily resolved orally and is under investigation. The Senior Clerk will additionally appraise the Management Committee of Chambers within the same time scale.
9. Where appropriate, the Senior Clerk will meet with the subject of the complaint within 7 days (or a longer period as may be necessary in the event of the subject of the complaint being on annual leave, ill etc) to fully investigate the circumstances of the complaint and with a view to seeking resolution of the complaint.
10. In the event that the complaint can be resolved, the Senior Clerk or the barrister concerned will write to the Complainant setting out the complaint and the resolution achieved.
11. If the complaint is of a serious nature or cannot be resolved between the Senior Clerk and the subject of the complaint, the matter will be referred to the Management Committee of Chambers and Head of Chambers who may call for further investigations. If considered necessary, the Management Committee will give the Complainant the opportunity to put their concerns in greater detail and will allow the subject of the complaint the opportunity to respond.
12. The Management Committee will inform the Complainant, within 48 hours of the relevant Management Committee meeting, of the conclusion of the investigation and provide an explanation of how the outcome was reached. If the complaint was upheld the Complainant will be informed of the action to be taken to rectify the situation and any action to be taken to prevent further occurrence.
13. All complaints will be determined within 8 weeks of receipt. However, in the event that the outcome of the investigation by the Management Committee is unsatisfactory to the Complainant, the Complainant will be informed that they are entitled to refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is not able to consider a complaint until it has first been investigated by chambers. The Legal Ombudsman can be contacted at: Legal Ombudsman?PO Box 6806,?Wolverhampton?WV1 9WJ?Telephone number: 0300 555 0333?Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Legal Ombudsman applies a timeframe for referral of complaints which is set at:
a) Six years from the date of the act / omission
b) Three years from the date that the complainant should reasonably have known there were grounds for complaint (if the act/omission took place before the 6 October 2010 or was more than six years ago)
c) Within six months of the complaint receiving a final response from chambers, if that response included 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
14. All conversations and documents relating to a complaint will be treated as confidential and will only be disclosed to the Head of Chambers, the Management Committee of Chambers and to anyone directly involved with the complaint and its investigation. This will include the barrister or member of staff complained about and the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund (Professional Indemnity Insurers).
15. Any complaint that involves an allegation of negligence or a potential claim against professional indemnity insurers will be brought to the attention of the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund as soon as possible.
Review of Complaints and Chambers Complaints Procedure
16. Chambers' Complaints Procedure will be reviewed by the Management Committee bi-annually. This will include a review of any complaints received within the past six months and to review whether steps taken to avoid re-occurrence were effective.
17. The Complaint Record will be retained for a period of 3 years from the date of closure.