Chambers' Complaints Procedure
Our aim is to provide you with a high quality service.
However, if you have a complaint you are should let us know as soon as possible. It is not necessary to involve solicitors in order to make your complaint but you are should to do so if you wish.
1. Please note that the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for service complaints about lawyers, has a number of time limits in which a complaint must be raised with them:-
a) Within six years of the date of the act/omission. In addition the act or omission must have taken place on or after 5th October 2010; and/or;
b) Three years from the date that the complainant should reasonably have known there were grounds for complaint ( again the act or omission itself must have occurred after the 5th October 2010 ); and/or
c) Within six months of the complaint 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 is 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 the Ombudsman within six months).
2.The Ombudsman can extend the time limit in exceptional circumstances. Chambers must will have regard to that timeframe when deciding whether they are able to investigate a complaint. Chambers will not usually deal with complaints that fall outside of the Legal Ombudsman’s time limits.
3. The Ombudsman will only deal with complaints from consumers. This means that only complaints from the barrister’s client are within their remit. Non-clients who are not satisfied with the outcome of the Chambers’ investigation should contact the Bar Standards Board rather than the Legal Ombudsman.
4. It should be noted 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 such a complaint and if it is felt that the issues raised cannot be satisfactorily resolved through the Chambers complaints process it will refer the complaint to the Bar Standards Board.
Complaints Made by Telephone
5. You may wish to make a complaint in writing and, if so, please follow the procedure in the paragraphs that follow. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone about your complaint then please telephone the individual nominated under the Chambers Complaints Procedure, Martin Adams, Practice Director, to deal with complaints in the first instance. If the complaint is about Martin Adams himself please telephone Andrew Mitchell QC, 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.
6. If your complaint is not resolved on the telephone you will be invited to write to us about it within the 14 days of the last telephone call relating to the complaint so that the complaint can be formally investigated.
Complaints made in Writing
7. You may wish to make a complaint in writing. If so, 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.
8. Please address your written complaint to Martin Adams, Practice Director, Chambers of Andrew Mitchell QC, 33 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1EN. 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. If your complaint is about Martin Adams then please address your complaint to the Head of Chambers Andrew Mitchell QC.
9. Our Chambers has a panel headed by Andrew Mitchell QC and made up of experienced members of Chambers and a senior member of staff, to consider 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 the complaint. 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.
10. The person appointed to investigate will write to you to let you know of their appointment and that a reply to your complaint will be sent within 14 days.
If later it proves difficult to reply within 14 days you will informed of a new date for the reply. The reply will set out:
The nature and scope of his investigation;
The conclusion on each complaint and the basis for the conclusion; and
If the finding is that you are justified in your complaint, proposals for resolving the complaint.
11. 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.
12. 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 report which summarises the nature and frequency of any complaints made with a view to improving services.
Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman
13. 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, but only after the conclusion of our consideration of your complaint. The Ombudsman is not able to consider your complaint until it has first been investigated by Chambers. Please note the timeframe for referral of complaints to the Ombudsman is as set out in paragraph 1 above.
You can write to them at:
PO Box 6806
Telephone number 0300 555 0333
14. If you are unhappy with the outcome of the investigation, alternative complaints bodies (such as “Small Claims Mediation [UK] Ltd” see website at www.small-claims-mediation.co.uk) also exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services, should you and the barrister both wish to use such a scheme. If you wish to use “Small Claims Mediation [UK] Ltd” please contact us to discuss this. Please note that whilst the website for “Small Claims Mediation [UK] Ltd” does not advertise a time limit within which they must be contacted; neither Chambers nor the individual who is the subject of your complaint will co-operate with any proposed mediation if you have failed to approach “Small Claims Mediation [UK] Ltd” within 2 months of your notification of the final outcome of Chambers investigation. Please also note that if mediation is used, neither you nor the barrister is required to accept the proposed resolution. If mediation does not resolve your complaint, you may still make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman (provided that you and/or your complaint falls within the remit of the jurisdiction of the Legal Ombudsman and you do so within the time limit).
15. If you are not the barrister’s client and are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation then please contact the Bar Standards Board at:
Bar Standards Board
Professional Conduct Department
289-293 High Holborn
Telephone number 0207 6111 444
Website : www.barstandardsboard.org.uk