About this policy
This policy deals with complaints made by third parties, including professional clients, lay clients, opponents and members of the judiciary.
This policy deals with complaints made about Members of Chambers and / or the staff of Chambers.
This procedure is governed by the Executive Board of Chambers and may be subject to change. Any change to this policy will be notified on the Complaints page of the Chambers website.
Chambers’ aim is to give the best possible service at all times. However, if a client has a complaint about any element of service received by a barrister or a member of staff of Chambers they are invited to let Chambers know as soon as possible.
Complaints from third parties
This policy is intended to deal with complaints from lay clients or professional clients instructing The 36 Group. Whilst feedback is welcomed from third parties, any complaints raised by a third party will be dealt with at the discretion of the Chief Operating Officer, or if the complaint is regarding the Chief Operating Officer, the Heads of Chambers.
Making an informal complaint
Although not a requirement, it is recommended that all complaints are raised with the relevant practice manager by telephone in the first instance, so that an informal resolution can be sought.
Details of all practice managers can be found on the staff page of the Chambers website.
If the complaint is regarding the practice manager, the complaint should be made to the Chief Operating Officer in the first instance.
If the complaint cannot be resolved informally, the complainant will be invited to raise the complaint in writing to Chambers so that it can be investigated formally.
Making a formal written complaint
Written complaints should be directed to the relevant practice manager in the first instance, whose details can be found on the staff page of the Chambers website.
If the complaint is regarding the practice manager, the written complaint should be made to the Chief Operating Officer in the first instance.
Written complaints should contain the following details:
- The complainant’s name and address;
- Which Member(s) of Chambers or member of staff the complainant is complaining about;
- The details of the complaint; and
- Any proposed resolution to the complaint.
Acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint will be sent to the complainant within 72 hours of the complaint being received.
Within 14 days of the complaint being received, the practice manager will appoint someone to investigate the complaint (which may be themselves) and will inform the Member or employee concerned of the complaint. The person appointed must be a Senior Manager, or a senior Member of Chambers who holds a position of authority in Chambers.
The person appointed to investigate the complaint will write to the complainant as soon as possible to let them know that they have been appointed and they will set out a timetable for feedback from the investigation.
Resolving the complaint
The investigator and the Member or employee concerned will respond to the complainant in writing, seeking to address any issues raised in the original complaint.
If the complaint is resolved, then the file will be closed and noted accordingly.
If it is not possible to resolve the complaint to the satisfaction of the complainant, the Chief Operating Officer shall be notified and will appoint a ‘Complaints Officer’ who shall adjudicate on the matter.
The Complaints Officer may invite the complainant, the Member or employee concerned, or any other party to provide further information as they may require in relation to the complaint, provided always that the Member or employee shall be given a reasonable opportunity to respond to any further information provided by the complainant or any third party.
The Complaints Officer may:
- Find that the complaint is not justified; or
- Find that the complaint is justified, in which case they shall determine;
- What, if any, remedial action should be taken to resolve the complaint and to ensure that the act or omission, the subject of the complaint, does not recur;
- Whether to recommend a refund or reduction in the complainants fees
- Whether to recommend an apology to the complainant
- Whether to submit a case for consideration of disciplinary action against the person(s) the subject of the complaint
The Complaints Officer may, in exceptional circumstances (at their absolute discretion) refer the matter to the Joint Heads of Chambers for review and adjudication (on the same basis as applies to the Complaints Officer).
As soon as possible thereafter, the person dealing with the matter in Chambers shall notify the complainant in writing of the result of the adjudication and inform the complainant of their right to refer the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, directing them to contact details of the Legal Ombudsman.
It should be noted that any complaint referred to the Legal Ombudsman must be made within the period of six years from the date of the act or omission giving rise to the complaint, or, if they were unaware of the complaint within the six year period, three years from when the complainant should have known about the complaint.
All written complaints should be provided to the Chambers Chief Operating Officer who shall maintain a complaints file, recording;
- The name of the Member or employee against whom the complaint was made;
- The identity of the complainant, including;
- Whether they are a professional client, lay client, direct access client, opponent, member of the judiciary or other.
- If a professional client, the firm’s name and address.
- A brief outline of the steps taken to resolve the complaint; and
- The outcome of the complaint.
Copies of all relevant documentation shall be kept in the complaints file.
The Chief Operating Officer will monitor the progress of any complaint until such time as it has been resolved.
The Joint Heads of Chambers shall analyse the Complaints File annually and report the statistics result to the Annual General Meeting.
Professional indemnity insurance
Any complaint of negligence or involving a potential claim against a Member of Chambers must be brought to the attention of the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund without delay. It is the responsibility of the Member concerned to do so.
CPS complaints procedure
For CPS work, the CPS complaints procedure shall be followed. A copy of that procedure is available from the Criminal Team Practice Manager.