Making a Complaint
Anyone wishing to complain may wish to do so in writing and, if so, they can follow the procedure as set out below. However, should anyone wishing to complain wish to do so via telephone:
They should contact Eustace (Practice Manager) directly should they wish to make a complaint about the professional conduct of a Barrister
A note of the details of the complaint and what the complainant would like to have done about it shall be taken. Discussion will take place with the complainant regarding their concerns with an aim to resolve their outstanding issue. If the matter is resolved a record of the outcome will be stored. We will also check that the complainant is satisfied with the outcome and record this also.
The complainant may also wish to have the outcome of the telephone discussion recorded in writing in which case this would be provided.
If the complaint is not resolved by telephone then the complainant will be invited to write to us about their complaint so that it can be investigated formally.
Making a Complaint in Writing
If anyone wishes to make a complaint in writing, either instead of, or following making a complaint by telephone we would be grateful if they could provide the following details within your written complaint:
- Their name and address;
- The name of the member(s) of Chambers or member(s) of staff you are complaining about;
- The detail of the complaint; and
- What you would like done about it.
Complaint by post should be sent to the Practice Manager:
Law Lane Chambers
1 Salway Place
We will, where possible, acknowledge receipt of the complaint within two working days and provide you with details of how your complaint will be dealt with.
If for any reason the complaint or any aspects of the complaint are felt to be outside of the Chamber’s complaints process we will inform the complainant in writing and shall include information about how the complainant can complain to the Legal Ombudsman or the Bar Standards Board as appropriate.
Chambers has a panel headed by Sharaz Ahmed (Head of Chambers) made up of experienced members of Chambers and a senior member of staff, which considers any written complaint. Within 14 working days of your letter being received we will appoint a member of the panel to investigate. The person appointed will be someone other than the person that has been complained about.
The person appointed to investigate will write to the complainant as soon as possible to let them know that they have been appointed and that they will reply to their complaint within 14 working days. If the investigation will take longer than 14 working days the person appointed to investigate shall set a new date for reply and inform the complainant of that date. The reply will set out the following:
- The nature and scope of the investigation;
- The conclusion reached in respect of each complaint and the basis for that conclusion; and
- Whether or not the investigator finds the complainant are justified in their complaint and their proposals for resolving the complaint.
Involvement of the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund
If the complaint involves a matter which may give rise to an insurance claim, the barrister will be obliged to inform his or her insurers, who will then need to be consulted before any proposals can be put to the complainant to resolve their outstanding issue. This may affect the speed with which we are able to respond to complaints in these circumstances.
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 the Chambers Management Committee and to anyone investigating or involved in the complaint. This will include the barrister or member of staff who you have complained about. 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 correspondence generated by the complaint for a period of six years. Our management committee is regularly provided with a record of any complaints with a view to improving services.
Making a Complaint to the Legal Ombudsman
If, having used our complaints procedure, the person is still unsatifised with the outcome, they may be able to take up their complaint with the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman is an independent body for service complaints about lawyers. We will advise the complainant of this right and the appropriate contact information and timescales at the end of the Chamber’s complaints procedure regardless of whether you have indicated to us that you are satisfied with the outcome.
Contact details for the Legal Ombudsman are as follows:
The Legal Ombudsman will not consider he complaint until it has first been investigated by Chambers and there are timescales within which the complainant must make their complaint.
The timescales within which the complaint must be submitted to the Legal Ombudsman are as follows:
- a) Six years from the date of the act/omission.
- b) Three years from the date that the complainant should reasonably have known that there were grounds for a complaint (if the act/omission took place before the 6th October 2010 or was more than 6 years ago).
- c) Within 6 months of the complainant 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, the provision of full contact details for the Ombudsman and a warning that the complaint must be referred to them within six months).
- d) The Ombudsman can extend the time limit in exceptional circumstances.
Please note that when deciding whether to investigate your complaint Chambers will have regard to the timeframes set out above. Chambers will not usually investigate complaints that fall out of the Legal Ombudsman’s time limits.
Making a Complaint to the Bar Standards Board
The Ombudsman only deals with complaints from consumers which means that only complaints from the barrister’s client fall 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.
Please note that there may be occasions when Chambers does not feel it is possible to investigate a complaint made by a non-client at all, and there, if, having made an initial assessment of the complaint, Chambers considers that the issues raised cannot be satisfactorily resolved through the Chambers complaints process you will be referred to the Bar Standard’s Board.
Contact details for the Bar Standards Board are as follows:
Bar Standards Board
Professional Conduct Department
289-293 High Holborn
Telephone: 0207 6111 444