1. Our aim is to give you a good service at all times, but if you have a complaint you are invited to let us know as soon as possible. In the first instance it may be helpful to contact the individual who is working on your case to discuss any concerns and he or she will do their best to resolve any issues at that stage. However, if you would like to make a formal complaint our complaints procedure is as follows.
Complaints made by telephone
2. You may wish to make a complaint in writing and, if so, please follow the procedure in paragraph 4 below. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone about your complaint then please telephone Marie Burke (Practice Manager) or Stephanie Talbot (Assistant Practice Manager). If the complaint is about the Practice Manager or Assistant Practice Manager, then it should be made in writing to the Head of Chambers, Patrick Soares. The person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. He or she will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved he or she 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.
3. 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
4. Please give the following details: your name and address, which member(s) of chambers or staff member(s) you are complaining about; the detail of the complaint; and what you would like done about it. Please address your letter to Marie Burke, Practice Manager, Field Court Tax Chambers, 3 Field Court, Gray’s Inn, London, WC1R 5EP (unless the complaint relates to the Practice Manager or Assistant Practice Manager in which case please address your letter to Patrick Soares, the Head of Chambers, at the same address).
5. Any written complaint will be considered by the Head of Chambers (unless the complaint relates to the Head of Chambers in which case another member of Chambers will consider the complaint). In any case, the person appointed will be someone other than the person you are complaining about.
6. The person investigating the complaint will write to you as soon as possible to let you know that he or she will be doing so and that they will reply to your complaint within 14 days. If that person finds 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. The reply will set out (1) the nature and scope of the investigation, (2) the conclusion on each complaint and the basis for the conclusion, and (3) proposals for resolving the complaint if it is found that the complaint was justified.
7. 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 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, 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 monitoring functions.
8. As part of our commitment to client care we make a written record of any complaint. Our Head of Chambers inspects the record with a view to improving services.
Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman / alternative dispute resolution
9. If you are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation, and you fall within their jurisdiction, then you can have the complaint independently looked at by the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman investigates problems about poor service from lawyers. Please note that the Legal Ombudsman only deals with complaints from a barrister’s client (a non-client who is not satisfied with the outcome of our investigation can contact the Bar Standards Board – see below).
10. Before accepting a complaint for investigation the Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have, then the time limits within which you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman are:
- Within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint and
- No more than six years from the date of act/omission; or
- No more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.
11. If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman please contact them. The contact details are:
- Visit www.legalombudsman.org.uk
- Call 0300 555 0333 between 9am to 5pm.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
12. Decisions made by the Legal Ombudsman can be accessed here.
13. In addition, if you are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation, alternative complaints bodies (such as ProMediate www.promediate.co.uk) also exist which can deal with complaints about legal services, should you and the barrister both wish to use such a scheme. If you wish to use ProMediate please contact us to discuss this. Please contact ProMediate to obtain further details about the scheme, including details of any applicable time limits for using the scheme. Please note that 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).
14. If you are not the barrister’s client you can nonetheless complain to the barrister or to Chambers using the procedure set out above. It should be noted, however, 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. Furthermore, if we carry out an investigation but you are unhappy with the outcome then please contact the Bar Standards Board:
- Bar Standards Board, Contact and Assessment Team, 289-293 High Holborn, London WC1V 7JZ
- Telephone 0207 6111 444